As Herman Miller read through the newly arrived fax, he swore quietly to himself. Minutes later, he asked Elizabeth Gold to join him. Miller and Gold were two of the senior regional representatives in a major city in the eastern half of North America for Euro-Air. Euro-Air, a major European-based commercial airline, operated daily service to its European hub from fourteen cities in North America and onward service to more than 300 locations in 90 countries around the world. The fax letter (see Exhibit 1) suggested that Euro-Air had recently caused a lot of problems for at least one of its passengers. Passenger complaint letters were not unusual at any airline. What was unusual about this letter was the litany of problems described, the fact that a quick check had revealed that virtually all the listed complaints were valid, and the nagging question at the end of the letter that asked "What would Euro-Air as an organization learn from this saga?" During this meeting, Miller and Gold agreed that Gold should probably take the unusual step of paying a personal visit to Peter Boyd, the passenger who had written. For Elizabeth Gold, the issues were: "If I do visit, what do I say to Mr. Boyd in response to the questions he's raised?" "What, if any, compensation should be offered?" "What can we do from a regional office perspective to learn from this experience?" "Should we even bother trying to change operating practices at Euro-Air at the headquarters (parent company) level?" THE WORLD AIRLINE INDUSTRy1
Air transport was the largest component of the world's largest industry (travel and tourism). The world's airlines carried over a billion passengers annually. One in four flights was to an international destination. Most airlines, including Euro-Air and its alliance pattners, belonged to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The approximately 250 members of lA TA were responsible for about 95 per cent of international scheduled air traffic. Because...
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