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Employee, Customer Satisfaction Should Be the Bottom Line in Airline Industry

March 08, 1987

As a pilot for United Airlines, I read James Flanigan's Feb. 20 column in The Times, "Allegis Needs to Make a Name for Itself Fast," with much interest. Many employees at United Airlines share his skepticism regarding Allegis, the new name of United's parent company, but as Flanigan fairly pointed out, only time will tell.

However, Flanigan seems to glorify and revere the almighty bottom line, and implies that Continental Airlines is the admirable yardstick in the industry.

Frank Lorenzo (the chairman of Texas Air Corp., Continental's parent) reached his present dubious position by the unethical use of bankruptcy law and by abrogating labor contracts while the Federal Aviation Administration was turning its back on training irregularities with the Reagan Administration's blessing.

Flanigan should read a recent Time magazine cover story regarding the decline in service in this country. Flogging overworked and underpaid employees does not create employee loyalty, and disenchanted employees do not generate a loyal passenger following, despite low operating costs and a superb bottom line.

The most important goal in aviation is safety; trying to mix safety, service and low price is potentially volatile.

The bottom line may be the ultimate preoccupation of many corporate MBA types, but I think it is time to look at ethics (i.e. employee and customer satisfaction), rather than stressing the impersonal and hollow goal of the best bottom line.


Palm Springs

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