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Yeager to set service standards for ground crews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Yeager Airport's governing board has authorized airport director Rick Atkinson and his staff to compile a list of customer service standards for employees of the three third-party companies that handle ground crew, baggage-handling and check-in work for airlines serving Charleston.

Among minimum standards expected to be included in the list is delivery of checked baggage to the baggage claim carousel within 20 minutes of an aircraft's arrival time. Also envisioned is a maximum five-minute wait from the time an aircraft arrives at a gate until passengers are allowed to exit, Atkinson said.

"Customer service standards have been in effect for years for our rental car, restaurant and general aviation concessions," Atkinson said during a meeting of Yeager's governing board on Wednesday. "We thought it would be a good idea to extend them to our third-party customer service and ground handling operators as well."

Minimum standards would also be set for such things as staffing levels, hours of operation, insurance coverage and employee uniforms.

If a problem in meeting minimum customer service standards is identified, the ground service contractors would be given a set period of time in which to fix it, Atkinson said.

"We recognize that there will always be things that happen, like bad weather or sick employees, that are beyond anyone's control" to keep the third-party ground service contractors from meeting new minimum standards, Atkinson said.

But if a ground service company repeatedly fails to meet the new standards, "when their lease is up, we may not willing to renew it," he said.

In other developments at Wednesday's meeting, it was announced that a white paper published by the MIT Airline Industry Consortium earlier this year rated Yeager second in the nation among non-hub airports in terms of flight connections.

The paper was based on last year's flight schedules, before Yeager added Dallas to its list of nonstop destinations. "If we had service to Dallas last year, it would have made us No. 1," said Brian Belcher, Yeager's marketing director.

The airport serving Asheville, N.C., was rated to be the top non-hub airport in terms of connectivity.

While tree-cutting in Coonskin park has been the topic of a recent controversy, a small timbering job being planned in the park to clear the approach lane to Yeager's main runway is not expected to generate any public outcry, according to Tim Murnahan, the airport's assistant director.

"This is something that's done once every five years," Murnahan said. "We'll use a licensed, insured contractor, we'll mark what's to be cut, and we'll monitor the cutting."

Many of the trees involved in the clearing project are too small to be commercially valuable, and will be chipped at the site.

A new T-hangar at Executive Air Terminal, Yeager's general aviation provider, is expected to open on Monday.

"We have 15 people waiting for the eight slots" available in the new hangar, said Scott Miller, Executive Air's president. 

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.

 


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