Delta Air Lines stops outsourcing reservation calls to India

Saturday, April 18, 2009, 10:10 by Aviation Correspondent

Delta Air Lines, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States, has stopped outsourcing reservation calls to India.
The airline’s decision follows “years of complaints from customers who prefer to speak to someone in the United States,” Delta Air Lines said in a statement.

Delta Air Lines, the world’s biggest airline, operates a vast domestic as well as international network covering North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa,
Caribbean, and the Middle East.

Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta Air Lines, said in the statement that the carrier was “in the process of bringing all customer calls back in-house in the United States.”

Customer calls, Anderson added, were not being forwarded to India as of the first quarter of 2009.

Foreign call centres in Jamaica and South Africa would remain, but he hinted that staffing at those two locations might be cut as the global economic recession was eating into Delta’s call volume.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Delta Air Lines, customer acceptance of call centres in foreign countries was low.

Some customers were voicing concern for many years over difficulty in understanding the call centre agents in India and “passengers preferred to hear American voices booking them,” Anderson explained in the statement.

In 2002, Delta Air Lines had said that it would send some reservation work to India in order to save money. However, in 2004, the airline closed down one of its three call centres located in India.

At that time, Delta had also revealed that outsourcing some of the call centre jobs had saved the carrier about $25 million a year.

Delta Air Lines employed about 4,500 people in its call centres in the United States after it stopped its outsourcing operations in India.

Delta’s shutting down of call centres in India has occurred about two months after United Airlines announced that it was moving 165 call centre jobs back to the United States from India “with a view to improving customer service.”

It was after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America that United Airlines, a subsidiary of UAL Corporation and based in Chicago, the United States, outsourced some reservation calls to India.

The website bizjournals.com quoted a spokesman of United Airlines as saying that some of the carrier’s reservation calls were still being forwarded to India.

United Airlines also operates call centres in Chicago, Detroit and Hawaii.

In 2007, Hawaiian Airlines, the biggest airline based in the State of Hawaii in the United States, had outsourced most of its reservation call-centre work to the Philippines.