This week, Delta Air Lines announced the impending closure of its Sioux City and Seattle Reservations Centers. A combined 353 workers – 165 in Sioux City and 188 in Seattle – will be laid off when the call centers cease operations in August.
The Sioux City site opened in 2007 under the banner of Northwest Airlines after a hard-fought, year-long battle with several other cities. In 2008, the merger between the two carriers saw the name changed to reflect Delta’s new ownership. At its peak, the location employed 275, though that number has since fallen by over 100.
The closures will bring Delta’s total number of call centers to seven, with additional sites including Augusta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City. The carrier has also relied on a growing network of at-home agents. With a call center workforce of 4,000, it ranks among the largest of the major airlines.
Delta was one of the early adopters of the outsourcing movement, adding call centers in India, the Philippines and South Africa. Initially, the strategy paid off, particularly in the post-911 world that nearly grounded the industry. By mid-2003, this effort put the company on track to save $26 million. However, over time, customers voiced their discontent with the new changes, and in 2009 Delta began repatriating the jobs back to the U.S.
As for the most recent developments, we were unable to reach anyone for comment – though Ashley Black with Delta Corporate Communications released the following statement early this week: “Consolidating our North American call center operations allows Delta to better utilize existing facility space, be more in line with our competitors, and maintain our focus on reduced overhead costs.”
While any closure of this sort is regrettable, especially considering the human costs involved, CallMe! IQ gives Delta the benefit of the doubt. With the past year’s vast improvements in customer service, this is an airline that understands how to put the “friendly” in “Flying the Friendly Skies.”