Delta To Launch Consolidated Customer Service Unit for Regional Airlines

 - February 11, 2009, 10:41 AM

Delta Air Lines plans to base a new subsidiary in Minneapolis that would take over all customer service duties for Delta Connection unit Comair and Northwest Airlink carriers Mesaba and Compass Airlines by this year’s third quarter, according to an internal memo sent to employees from Delta Connection senior vice president Don Bornhorst. Called Regional Handling Services (RHS), the new unit will employ ticket and gate agents and baggage handling personnel in some 100 airports and perform “oversight” at 170 airports where other independently owned Delta Connection and Northwest Airlink carriers operate in an effort to encourage more service uniformity. All told, the move will involve 1,400 employees at the three regionals, although Delta hopes to effect any needed job cuts completely through attrition and voluntary retirement.

“As there is minimal overlap of the Comair and Mesaba ground handling networks, we anticipate no voluntary frontline reductions,” Bornhorst wrote.

Delta has chosen Comair vice president for system planning and customer service Don Stephens to lead the new division. Part of his mandate will involve pursuing customer service and ground handling contracts for other airlines.

“New efficiencies created by RHS’s size, scope and combined buying and contracting power will contribute to the $2 billion in annual revenue and cost synergies expected from our merger with Northwest,” Bornhorst added. “Synergies will be driven from competitive contract bidding, optimized ground handling equipment utilization, streamlined training, reduced overhead expense and increased insourcing opportunities.”