This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 30, 2003

Expect Delays in US Airports

Air travelers in the United States will experience delays in checking in and getting to their planes in airports across the country. By this Fall, check- in and security times will be noticeably lengthened, exceeding current processing periods.

Two related factors will influence the time it takes to move from the airport door to the gate. Both factors are staffing issues, internally and externally driven.

Internally, America's airlines are challenged to find ways to build efficiencies into their operating systems. These companies are not generating enough profit, so they must continue to grow revenue and reduce costs. As the economy improves, more businesses and individuals will feel comfortable purchasing airline tickets. Prices will gradually rise as the market adjusts to what the customers will pay. At the same time, airlines will concentrate on automation to reduce their high personnel costs. While many passengers will be happy to use the kiosks found in airports across the country, other travelers will need-or prefer-personal attention. Conflicting intentions will increase the use of technology and reduce the availability of humans at the same time that people will desire more personal service. Result: longer lines at check-in counters.

The Transportation Security Administration grew very quickly, to the point that executives and legislators with oversight felt the field organization was overstaffed. The strategic decision was made to layoff a number of employees to reduce the personnel cost. While fewer security employees will be available to screen passengers and luggage, officials still believe that standards for processing time can be maintained. Another layoff is scheduled for later in the year to further downsize the organization to eliminate overstaffing. Fewer employees will be available to serve a growing number of business and leisure travelers.

Externally, the job market will grow with the economy. Over-qualified Transportation Security Administration employees will leave to pursue more suitable opportunities. Thus, as the organization is proceeding with its mandated layoff, employees they want to keep will choose to leave. Authority to hire replacements to counteract this trend will be a long time coming, creating time-consuming bottlenecks in airports. Protect yourself: Arrive earlier.

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