Our Most Important Commodity

Feb. 1, 2004
Our Most Important Commodity

February 2004

In the fight to stay in business the last two years, we've all had to employ cost savings programs, cut expenses, develop new revenue streams and now, many of us are finally seeing a light, a faint light in some cases, at the end of the tunnel. However, airlines across the globe continue to struggle with their core business, they are searching for new business models, and some are introducing discount carriers.

We've all personally experienced the downside resulting from airline financial shortcomings; fewer flights, more delays, and stricter frequent flier program rules and in the microcosm of ground support, far fewer orders for equipment and services.

As frustrating and difficult as that is for the general public and suppliers to the airlines, there may be a more serious side effect. In the fight to stay afloat, have the airlines forgotten their most valuable asset; their employees.

In recent months I've heard of the trouble ground support station managers are having with retaining good, qualified employees. Many airlines have cut benefits, axed annual pay raises, while requiring more work from fewer employees. Many ground support supervisors are working with half the staff they are used to because they no longer offer attractive benefit packages.

With some airlines teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and resources spread as thin as possible, airlines could be overlooking the most important commodity that could help turn their problems around. Investing in personnel with training and employee retention incentives could go a long way in helping alleviate some of the problems. The "people" are what decides success and failure in this economy; I'd surely be working very hard at keeping every valued employee.