How Ineffective Staffing Procedures Cost the Flight Industry – And How to Avoid Those Costs

In the flight industry, most business processes are critical ones. To get planes in the air on time and safely, with the right staff, every process has to work smoothly. Ineffective procedures and processes can have expensive consequences. Being able to flawlessly call out for personnel with short notice and reach out with the right information to the right people is vital.

The flight industry is entirely dependent on its personnel. If, for example, a pilot gets sick shortly before take off, the flight will be delayed, or worse, cancelled, if a new pilot can’t be scheduled quickly. This type of situation leads to angry customers as well as very expensive compensation costs for airlines. The same goes for communication between service technicians – if information about delays or other incidents, large or small, doesn’t get to the right people in a timely manner it can have a costly impact on business. In other words, airlines are dependent on effective and well-functioning procedures and processes for their communication.

The ability to quickly and effectively send out imperative information to the right recipients is a challenge that many airlines struggle with today. Old, inefficient systems for internal and external communication have been patched together over time making it nearly impossible to maintain consistent and effective communication flows.

Critical processes for quick staffing for  take off

From the moment plane tickets go on sale, the planning work for airline staffers beings. They ensure that the right number of personnel with the right qualifications are available, and that work continues more or less until the moment the plane lifts off the ground.

It’s the ‘Crew Planning’ department that most often takes care of airlines’ staffing needs. They are responsible for making sure each plane is correctly manned by with a crew that is made up of all roles that are needed. Without a collaborative contact system, with accessible and updated contact lists, this work can be extremely time consuming and unnecessarily problematic.

The last few days before each take off are critical because unforeseen challenges can arise that need to be dealt with immediately. At this point, the Crew Planning department often hands over the responsibility for any last minute staffing changes to ‘Crew Control’. These changes include replacing sick or otherwise unavailable crew who had been scheduled to work. These few days make up a critical business moment for airlines, because the plane can’t lift until replacement crew are called in and make it onto the plane. Because of this, Crew Control needs to be able to quickly and easily see which staff are available, send out a Crew Call-Out message to the right type of employees, collect their responses, and handle those responses that come in. In traditional set ups, there are many steps that add a lot of time to last minute staffing processes. For example, when Crew Control can’t see which staff are available to work extra they need to reach out to all staff, which means they need to sort through unnecessary communication (and is also irritating for staff that is off and doesn’t want to be bothered by the messages from work). Another time consuming step is manually sorting out which type of staff has responded to which call-out. Finally, reading and responding to incoming messages creates a lot of extra work! So that planning and last minute staffing work can work as smoothly as possible, and so that an airline can solve any unforeseen event that might happen along the way to a flight being able to lift off, communication processes need to work quickly and via technology that quickly and accurately reaches out with the right message to the right group.

Staffing – just one of several challenges

It’s not only staffing challenges that can keep airlines’ business from taking off. Other critical communication needs center around informing staff and passengers of delays, accidents, and the like.

Situations where effective and well-functioning communication flows are crucial in the flight industry:

  • When serious incidents occur, such as emergency landings or, very rarely, when a plane crashes, information needs to get out to the right people quickly, so that emergency processes can be put into action immediately.
  • When IT issues occur, all other business processes can be affected. In this case, an independent communication system must be in place so that all affected parties are aware of the issue, and so that those responsible can be called in to solve the issue.
  • When the unexpected happens during a routine operation, such as a regular servicing of a plan, that has to be communicated to several different parties. It can mean a plane will be delayed, or perhaps needs to be replaced, or that specialized staff are required to take care of whatever issue might be at hand.
  • If a flight route is cancelled, the airport where a plane was originally scheduled to land needs to be informed promptly.

The right technology creates the right conditions for managing challenges

There are many situations where the tech, communication flows, and processes must work. That’s why it’s crucial to have the right tools to efficiently and easily communicate with different groups, thus minimizing the risk of error or complication. A coordinated communication system, correctly integrated with other vital tools, and conveniently based on mobile messaging via SMS or an app is an easy to use, effective, and time saving way to deal with these types of communication challenges.  


Crew Call-Out brochure

Download the Crew Call-Out guide to learn more about LEKAB’s automated solution for airlines.

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