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A new automated communications service

New Varolii flight team managment application helps avert flight delays

As the 2009 summer travel season heats up, Varolii Corporation, the market and technology leader in proactive outbound communications, is helping the nation’s top airlines eliminate a major source of flight delays and cancellations. Varolii Flight Team Management is a new automated communications service airlines can use to rapidly adjust flight and ground crew schedules when bad weather or other unforeseen events keep regularly scheduled crew members from working. Using two-way messages via voice calls, text messaging and email, airlines can find and reschedule far-flung employees in mere minutes-often leading to no flight delay whatsoever. Most of the nation’s top airlines are already using Varolii to notify their passengers of flight delays, cancellations, gate changes and frequent flyer updates. With Flight Team Management, Varolii now provides the airline industry’s only communications service that addresses two of the top drivers of airline passenger dissatisfaction – lack of communication when schedules change and widespread flight delays themselves.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 20 percent of all flights are delayed or cancelled, often due to an inability or delay in finding substitute crew members. As a result, customer satisfaction in the airline industry has dramatically declined in the last several years. Varolii Flight Team Management helps airlines address the problem head-on. 

With Varolii Flight Team Management, airlines can:
– Speed up and improve communication to inform, update and resolve emergency situations. Instead of relying on manual phone trees that may take hours to complete and still not reach everyone, airlines can now use Varolii Flight Team Management to send and receive information in a matter of seconds.
– Improve flight team resource management.  When a flight is delayed or cancelled, the flight crew is often too late or in the wrong city to continue their assigned flight schedule. Airlines must scramble to staff each follow-on flight with substitute crews who are in the correct city, available to fly and meet criteria set by unions and the FAA. Varolii Flight Team Management allows airlines to rapidly assess which crew members can fly, documents compliance with all regulations, and ensures new crews are aware and working to their revised schedule, thereby averting additional delays and cancellations.
– Rapidly and efficiently assess staff availability. Given the mobile nature of flight personnel, two-way multi-channel communication is critical to reaching employees and gauging whether they can fly, regardless of their current location. With Varolii Flight Team Management, airlines can reach employees via multiple devices including phone, email and text message, and even escalate from device to device if an employee doesn’t respond to the first message.
– Lower labor costs for schedulers and staff managers. Dealing with a widespread disruption (such as a major snowstorm) typically requires significant time and effort, and airlines often ramp up their operations centers to handle the spike in rescheduling activities, leading to overtime costs and staff burnout. As an automated communications service, Varolii Flight Team Management enables airlines to effectively manage large-scale schedule changes with minimal increases in staffing and overtime costs.
– Reach out to other parties including external stakeholders such as community officials and the media. In a crisis situation, airlines can be inundated with hundreds of requests for information that often changes on a minute-by-minute basis. With Varolii Flight Team Management, airlines can pre-empt most requests by proactively sending updated alerts, leaving spokespeople more time to triage complex requests and respond in an appropriate way.

Leveraging Varolii ID, the company’s unique segmentation and analysis capability, Flight Team Management enables airlines to identify individual crew members in specific locations who are willing to fly, while adhering to union contracts and meeting the stringent dispatch criteria set by the FAA. These include minimum downtime since their last flight, type rating, training certifications and other requirements.  Airlines can choose to create custom messages or use one of 10 pre-built notifications to reach flight operations employees—pilots, flight attendants, ground crews and gate agents—to gauge their availability, manage schedule changes and relay critical information in times of crisis.

“A single delayed flight can create a domino effect across the entire air traffic control system, affecting thousands of passengers and impacting airline profitability,” said Jeffrey Read, executive vice president at Varolii. “With the introduction of Flight Team Management, Varolii is the only communications service that not only helps airlines preserve passenger goodwill when flight delays occur, but also helps them avoid some flight delays altogether.”

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.