Air Transport World

Serving up seminars for 'strokers.' (Scandinavian Airlines System, and Texas Air Corp. implement employee-training center)

Quality Service Institute's SAS-style personal-development seminars are puffing smiles on faces of front-line employees. By Henry Lefer.

New York-When Scandinavian Airlines System and Texas Air Corp. announced their commercial alliance in October, 1988, skeptics viewed the liaison as the aviation version of "The Odd Couple."

True, SAS would gain access to the '90-city U.S. route network of TAC's Continental Airlines via passenger interchange at Continental's Newark hub, and Continental would extend its reach across the Atlantic via SAS's European hubs. And indeed, this part of the deal is panning out. Since last May, when SAS moved its main New York terminal from JFK to Newark, traffic is up substantially. Through the end of the year, SAS says it gained 16,000 passengers who previously would have flown on other airlines to non-SAS European hubs. Some 30% of the Newark passengers transferred to or from U.S. domestic flights, with Continental accounting for about two thirds of the transfers.

But still, two such different partners! SAS, an acknowledged leader in customer care and recognized by A TW as Airline of the Year in 1984 and for the quality of its passenger service in 1987, and Continental, a long way from being considered anybody's favorite airline. At SAS, employee morale was high. At Continental, it was low. So it was decided early on that if the partnership was to succeed, some of SAS's magic would have to be applied at Continental. …

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