AS AIRLINES across Europe slash services and axe jobs, a new book has been launched calling for bosses to look at their staff as the saviours of the ailing industry.
The book, snappily titled Up in the Air: How Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging their Employees, reveals the ills of the business, including how airline workers are getting more and more frustrated with the way they are being treated. “Faced with gathering clouds, this book has come at a critical time for our industry,” said Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), at last Friday’s launch.
“One airline chief is famous for saying it’s my way or the highway. But the evidence is there that there might actually be a new way.”
Written by a group of professors, the book describes how looking after the workforce not only makes for happier trolley dollies, but can also boost profits and charm the passengers.
Professor Greg Bamber, one of the authors, explained: “The airline industry has been failing. In the first five years of this century, airlines in the USA alone lost over $30billion while shedding more than 100,000 jobs. They forced the other workers to give up over $15bn in wages and benefits.”
The book suggests that more airlines are likely to collapse and that airlines are facing a ‘perfect storm’. Bamber said: “Too many executives and trade unionists assume that adversarial industrial relations are inevitable. Much more can be achieved by airlines and other enterprises developing cooperative industrial relations.”
The authors argue that it is possible to design a more sustainable airline that better balances the objectives of customers, investors, employees, and the wider society.
“Deregulation should not mean an abrogation of governments’ responsibility to oversee an industry which shows signs of deterioration with an increasing risk of crisis,” Bamber added.
The book champions carriers such as Southwest Airlines. Bamber, a professor at Monash University in Australia, currently also a visiting professor with Newcastle University, England, said:
“Unlike many other airlines, Southwest has been consistently profitable, it has not rushed into redundancies and it has a constructive relationship with its workers and the unions. Such enlightened employer practices are all the more important in the current global financial crisis.”
Up in the Air: How Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging their Employees is written by Greg Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas Kochan and Andrew von Nordenflycht, and is published by Cornell University Press. For more information about the book, go to: www.cornellpress.cornell.edu
ONE AIRLINE CHIEF IS FAMOUS FOR SAYING THAT IT’S MY WAY OR HIGHWAY. BUT THERE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE A NEW WAY
A NEW WAY: Prof Greg Bamber
GETTING THE MESSAGE OVER: The book cover spells it out
9 Feb 2009
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