Can an Airline Cut “Turn Times” Without Adding Staff

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Analyzes RSA Ground “Turn Times” Without Adding Staff

This case study analyzes RSA Ground, one of the subsidiaries of Rising Sun Airlines. RSA Ground is involved in servicing of planes at airports across Japan, which is part of the airline’s activities related to plane maintenance. In addition to that, a service crew has specific responsibilities which include refueling, prompt checking of a plane, and restocking. This company’s section has a major problem which is “turn times” related to its operational processes. The term “turn times” in this case means the time taken by a service crew to operate multiple planes docking at an airport. As highlighted in the case study, the company faces costly delays due to a situation in which the service crew takes more than the recommended time lapse of 12 minutes to perform their plane servicing activities (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). The time taken by the service crew ranges between 16 and 20 minutes, which is above the threshold set by the company. The recommended 12-minutes turn times relate to multiple inspections and servicing of various planes which also means that more planes are serviced within the limited time per day. It means that if it takes 12 minutes to service one plane then approximately 5 planes can be serviced in an hour.

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However, currently the company is faced with the problem that it takes approximately 20 minutes for a service crew to check a plane, which translates to 3 planes serviced in an hour. Improvements in the servicing turn times mean reducing them to 16-18 minutes per plane. It is even more profitable if a service crew attains a 12 minutes threshold. An undercover research conducted by Kentaro-san, the president of RSA Ground, has revealed that much has to be done in order to attain a 10-12 minutes time frame (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). Kentaro identified vacuum that needs to be filled in the servicing department. According to the research, the factors that prevent the company to attain quicker turn times in servicing planes include problems related to ineffective team management, organizational culture, management challenges, ethical behavior, globalization and diversity in the workplace.

Problem Identification

The airline industry is faced with the challenge of flight delays at an airport due to slow turn times. This is a serious problem facing the company and the entire management is concerned. The service crews that attend planes work at a slower rate ranging from 18 to 20 minutes. This is not promising as a far as the industry is concerned and more so, the huge traffic that need to be transported. Moreover, many customers often complain about planes being dirty, which indicates that shoddy work is done by the service crew. This is very costly to the airline in regard to competition in the market and it may end up losing its customers to other competing airlines. Furthermore, such issues may end up driving away other potential customers who want to travel with RSA airlines. Low customers turn out means that the company will make minimal profits as projected in the company’s target list.

Promises have been made to the company’s shareholders to increase profit margins and the company tries to reach the target. Some stakeholders may end up being frustrated if the goals are not achieved. Other secondary problems experienced by the company include employees’ lack of interest in their jobs which is due to their job perspectives. This problem is mostly related to of the service crew members, especially new employees, who perceive their job as a gateway into their dream jobs. They consider service job as unpleasant and dirty and people without good education can end up performing it. Another challenge is associated with management of the crew members to ensure that they perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

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Functions of the Management


Planning involves setting the standard of operating procedures, rules and regulations or even policies (“The Supervisor’s Role in Management, n. d”). Planning is supported by setting objectives and goals which are then converted into specific plans. Though this is present to some extent in the case study, it is not entirely practiced. Poor service delivery by the crew in regard to provision of maintenance to Boeing 747 shows that there was insufficient planning made by a supervisor (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). Lady Clockwatch who is entitled to the supervision of the crew and setting time was noted to be absent during some servicing operations. She was not able to plan schedules of the groups working in the morning and afternoon.


This is a crucial component of management which cannot be seen in RSA Airlines as far as service crew operations are concerned. Leadership comes in various ways including motivation of employees to give their best performance (“The Supervisor’s Role in Management, n. d”). Service crew members were not well paid making the employees consider their job as worthless. Furthermore, they were temporarily employed making them unsure of their job, therefore, using it as a gateway to better jobs.


In performing organizational function, a supervisor should line up the entire workforce (“The Supervisor’s Role in Management, n. d”). In this way, the all the departments of an organization are able to deliver. This means that the number of employees is enough for them to be able to perform their duties. RSA Airlines faces the problem related to the shortage of employees, thus the company cannot provide its clients with appropriate services.


Supervisors of a service crew are expected to keep scores of how their employees work. However, this factor is absent in the team management as there were complaints by customers regarding maintenance of the planes. The customers highlighted that some cabins were not well maintained. Cabins should have been properly checked by a supervisor before letting the customers board a plane.

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Team Management

There was a problem with management of a service crew to effectively undertake their duties. Lady Clockwatch who controls the servicing processes in the planes didn’t perform her duties well enough. She is entrusted with various activities including inspection of the planes to ensure that the work was properly done and more so to ensure that the team is able to perform its duties within the stipulated time. It is obvious that supervisors are entrusted with lower level or first-line management of their teams to ensure that they keep up with the company’s goals and targets (Reh, 2017). Lady Clockwatch was unable to be in different working sections at the same time to inspect work progress.

A service team working at Narita Airport in the morning was left without supervision. The supervisor was reported to be working with another team that morning and wanted to catch up later with the first team in the afternoon. The team lacked motivation to work hard. Supervisors have an important role in influencing certain behavioral characteristics of their team members (“The Supervisor’s Role in Management, n. d”). Supervisors are entrusted to create a positive working environment, and directly or indirectly improve the team members’ performance and attitudes. These behavioral traits are connected to positive work and beating time.

Managerial challenges

There are some managerial challenges identified in RSA Airlines, one of them inability of the service department to overcome a 12 minutes time threshold. This is because there was lack of better strategies implemented by the management team to beat that time. First, there was bureaucracy in the organization where the top management rarely communicated with the bottom level management. This is also manifested by the top executives’ criticism of Kentaro when he decided to go undercover to improve servicing turn times. Daishi Isharu, the CEO of Rising Sun, laughed at Kentaro and his initiative which would see him down not only in the trenches but also in the toilet bowls. This reveals the manner in which the top management perceived lower servicing jobs; thus, it would be hard for new employees of the company to perceive these jobs as important as the top positions.

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Cleaning of a plane is important since it also determines the time of take-off; slow job means delay in departure. This problem can only be dealt with by close interaction with people occupying lower management positions. There are lots of tricks in beating time as manifested by Nobuo-san, who used his tricks trying to beat up servicing time (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). These innovative strategies cannot be tamed by the top management when there is limited interaction with the lower level employees working as a service crew.

The top management was more concerned with profit generation than increasing the number of service crew members. This problem is highlighted when Nobuo states that it took fewer servicing members more time than anticipated to clean Boeing 747 (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). Lady Clockwatch is faced with multiple tasks related to managing several groups at the same time. It is important for every group to have a supervisor who ensures that the group performs its duties within a required time period. Moreover, there is a challenge of ensuring that new employees are committed to their work and not to visualize their job as a gateway into their dream jobs.

Organizational Culture

Cabin maintenance job is faced with a setback because of the protocols stipulated in a guideline sheet which need to be followed by a crew. This has been the company’s culture for long time and every new employee should be trained based on the same guidelines. Experience works best to exclude some of the challenges faced when performing cleaning duties as manifested by tricks used by Nobuo. He stated that he used some tricks which worked best to finish the job in a fast and convenient way. Nobuo’s fast and diligent performance was always acknowledged by Lady Clockwatch. Organizational culture at times may be expensive when not reviewed by a company’s strategists. As highlighted by Lorsch & McTague (2016) cultural change is important to every company facing business challenges.

Another challenging feature of organizational culture noted in RSA Airlines was the division of functional positions where top managers rarely communicated with those of lower ranks. The initiative by Ken was viewed as insane and degrading; this culture of division is expensive where the top officials are noted to have limited knowledge of operational processes of the company performed by lower rank managers. This is also supported by arguments manifested by top officials; their strategic decisions in regard to improving service delivery were not designed to solve the situation. This is because the company’s top managers were more concerned with making profit than with actually solving the problem related to cabin maintenance.

Ethical Behavior

Ethical behavior was another problem identified to slow airplane turn times. Good ethical behavior stipulates that employees should perform their duties diligently. As highlighted by Toshi, who was new to the company and had been working for it only for a month, there were cases of deceit, meaning that sometimes there was too much work and it could not be finished on time. Toshi told Kentaro about the incident related to cleaning of Boeings 747 (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). Toshi says that with only six crew members, each working at the same speed, cleaning of Boeings 747 took too much time and they were not able to perform their duties within the time limit set by the management. They resorted to skipping some sections which required cleaning. This is because they were not able to clean all places as the time was running. The next day Lady Clockwatch was reported to be angry with the crew for their shoddy work but what was to blame? Is it incompetence or time that didn’t allow them to attend to all the places required to be cleaned, restocked or refilled.


Globalization incorporates situations in which there is an increased interaction between both employees and non-staff workers of a company. This interaction is marked by international coordination of ideas, culture and social aspects. This was noted to be lacking in RSA Airlines as sharing of ideas and information with other firms was limited. Most airlines offering their services to customers are faced with the same challenges as those that affect RSA Airlines. Globalization, as stated by Button (2008), is the process of making transformation of phenomena or things into global ones. Through this process, the company can maximize its profits and improve its operation processes having analyzed those adopted by other companies.

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The company’s top officials do not consider ideas used by other companies worldwide when making decisions related to its cabin maintenance service. However, it can be changed through interaction of the company’s management with people occupying various positions in other companies. Sometimes, some decisions are hard to make as they require either internal or external coordination. Internal coordination means that information can flow within the company while external coordination means that information can flow across companies either within a state, country or continents. Initial initiative should involve coordination of the company’s employees either top-down or down-top. This ensures that all the stakeholders of the firm are familiar with decision making for a better tomorrow and effective performances. The information gathered in the process of interaction can then be compared with ideas collected from outside to make the decisions that benefit the company. In this case, an idea can be utilized or tested to analyze whether it can be effective or not. If the tested idea seems worthless then other considerations or ideas used in other firms can be used.

Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity in the workplace is important because it brings with it various traits that are useful to an organization. More so, it enhances different perspectives seen by various people in the organization. Diversity varies ranging from age to sexuality, ability, education, social status and race (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). According to the analysis of the case the top management of RSA Airlines has not taken diversity into consideration when making decisions. One of the critical ideas to be considered in regard to the crew service delivery rotates around employing people with a strong ability to perform. The top officials consider Nobuo as one of such employees as he completes the tasks fast and within the required time limit. Nobuo-san’s ability to perform well is not characterized by his age but rather understanding of work. Moreover, apart from Nobuo, there is an old woman who also finishes her work faster than other members of the crew.

The company’s executive is reported to employ part-time workers on a temporary basis not taking into consideration such important traits as ability to performance (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). This is why the company made several mistakes hiring employees like Toshi who had limited knowledge and no interest in work. Toshi decided to work here while waiting for a better employment elsewhere with a better payment. |diversity in decision making is important to any company, because it brings various ideas. The management didn’t see the need to involve people with a limited educational background like Nobuo in their decision making processes. It is crucial to note that these people are very vital to decision-making processes because they are involved in most of the challenges experienced in the company. It was shocking to realize that Lady Clockwatch, a supervisor, couldn’t recognized a senior official like Kentaro, which shows that the top management was hugely segregated from lower management departments. This should not be the case; the management should create a closer interaction with lower departments when solving issues and should communicate with people with different backgrounds.

Possible Solution

A possible solution to the problem involves desire of top officials to identify themselves with a service crew maintaining the planes and a supervisor (McNamara, 2002). It is important to take into consideration, especially if the top management wants to reduce turn times without employing extra staff. Identification can be performed using various methods including financial support, coaching of the crew, advocacy, communication and liaison (McNamara, 2017). These processes have the capability of improving efficiency of work done by the service crew. Financial support means increasing the wages of the employees and, more so, providing them with the necessary modern tools to be used to perform their duties faster, thus reducing turn times (McNamara, 2002). Communication ensures that there is a free flow of information between all the levels of management and that there is limited bureaucracy.

Communication will enable recognition and identification of ideas brought forth by the crew in performing cabin maintenance services. A very good example is provided by Kentaro’s realization that there were actually some tricks used by Nobuo to perform his duties faster (Bernstein & Buell, 2016). These tricks should then be included

into a guideline sheet as a part of job recommendations. Coaching of employees is useful in ensuring that they improve their service delivery and experience. Liaison with the service crew will enable the top management to tackle some issues including their hiring and firing (McNamara, 2002). Through these processes, the crew will be confident of their permanent employment in contrast to the existing temporary state of employment identified in the case study.

Advocacy means being responsible for employees working for an organization and handling their requests. This also includes rewarding the individuals who strive to make delivery of the services better. These processes have been presented to ensure that in case the company can’t hire more staff members then these recommendations could be useful in increasing productivity in the company (McNamara, 2002). People require motivation to perform better at work; additional payments and benefits provided to the employees together with other promising environments to work in will lead to a change in the process.

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Other strategies are also important and include both external and internal analyses of the company by the management team. This will ensure that the managers will be able to identify what is going wrong (Paiva & Marques, 2015). Moreover, external analysis of other companies is important to keep the developmental pace of the company at par with other competing companies. This includes analyzing mechanisms used by servicing teams to reduce turn times of the planes.

Competitive strategies can be used to provide positive feedback to the crew; this is done through promising a reward to the best performing personnel when executing their duties. Functional strategies can be used also by recognizing highly functional groups and lagging groups. Strategies could then be implemented to ensure that performance of both groups is satisfactory.


Successful companies are associated with measuring performance of their workers (Parida & Kumar, 2009). Measuring of employees’ performance is important because it gives important information of how the company is doing. Crews require these processes, as they will lead to higher productivity. Parida & Kumar (2009) highlight some of the important factors that need to be considered by the top management; they include motivation, work measurement and incentives, planning, labor productivity, organizational policy and staffing, technical training and management training. To ensure that the company cut “turn times” without adding staff, these factors need to be considered to guarantee maximum productivity in the company. For example, giving incentives to the best performing workers could influence their speed when performing duties. Furthermore, management planning could also determine the smooth flow of work hence enabling the crew to beat the timeline set by the company.


It is possible to cut turn times without adding the staff, if the company decided to implement better management-related mechanisms. Better managerial mechanisms are recommended starting from the managers of higher ranks. Employees of the lower ranks should be given better platforms to perform to their best abilities. These include permanent employment, coaching and training to increase speed when delivering services, advocating for employees requests, increased wages both to existing and new employees, adoption of Nobuo’s strategies, creating effective communication between all the employees of the company and lastly liaison with lower departments to enable the employees to perform to the best of their abilities. The most notable outcome in beating turn times is highlighted by the tricks employed by the experts in the field which include people like Nobuo. Their strategies could improve the company’s performance, especially when modern technologies are used in regard to supervision and monitoring of employees since supervisors can’t be in different places at the same time.

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