If you trust the fine folks at Continental, it’s official: the airline industry is in a (*ahem*) tailspin. With the announcement that Continental will cut 3,000 jobs and reduce capcity by 11% in the fourth quarter, the company’s chief executive, Larry Kellner, and president, Jeff Smisek, sent out this message to employees:
“The airline industry is in a crisis. Its business model doesn’t work with the current price of fuel and the existing level of capacity in the marketplace. We need to make changes in response.”
Reductions at Continental are just the latest in a steady stream of cutbacks (Continental, Spirit, United), groundings (Silverjet) and shutdowns (Aloha) that is plaguing the industry — and its customers.
Obviously, the economy has played a role here — pulling up fuel prices and making people less keen to travel. But it still seems odd to me that, after so many years of being on the forefront of customer service and loyalty programs (how many of us have some sort of “–miles” credit card?), airlines now cannot seem to get people into the air. What is it going to take, DM-ers? Please, leave some comments on what you think airlines can do to re-gain consumer trust, convince travelers to help pay for rising fuel costs, and just generally bring the industry back on some steady footing.