Continental Airlines

900 Words4 Pages
case case Continental Airlines:
One Company’s Flight to Success In the last decade, Continental Airlines has had a spotty track record. The airline twice filed for bankruptcy, realized diminished performance culminating in a $613 million loss in 1994, and was ranked dead last in industry indicators such as on-time performance among the major carriers. During these years, employees at Continental had undergone several series of layoffs and withstood both wage cuts and delayed wage increases in an effort to slash Continental’s costs. The result of these efforts was a demoralized workforce and a corporate reputation that put Continental near the top of Fortune’s list of “least admired” companies. Despite this history, things have
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Once in charge of the struggling airline, Bethune eliminated more than 7,000 jobs, dismissed fifty vice presidents and replaced them with twenty new managers, and outsourced much of the carrier’s maintenance work. The thrust of this reorientation embodied Bethune’s efforts and goals to improve company service while abolishing cut-rate fares and cost-based practices. In addition to these explicit streamlining actions, Bethune also changed several practices that had significant symbolic value in the refocusing effort at Continental. For example, surveillance cameras were removed from executive offices, and the cockpits of planes were scheduled to be cleaned every thirty rather than every ninety days. Perhaps the most important changes, however, were the actions taken to adjust the human resources management practices to facilitate the achievement of the company’s new goals. The first step was to involve the workers in the decision-making processes at Continental. When Bethune arrived and determined that there would have to be layoffs, the employees were given input into the process and decisions. Communication with top management was implemented through a toll-free number established to handle employee complaints. To deal with the sixty calls a day that came in, a committee was created to respond to these problems with a solution within forty-eight hours. Moreover,
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