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Introduction

Service operation management can be referred to as the process of utilising different departments of a business such as human resources, accounting, and others in an efficient manner. Thus, in this following study, a thorough understanding is going to be presented for understanding the service operation management of EasyJet Airlines considering it as a low-cost airline company. Based on this company, the challenges that are being encountered by the company along with ways to mitigate the same would be discussed in an efficient manner. Furthermore, the theories, and tools that would be used for addressing the challenges would also be highlighted in detail.

Service Operation

Service operation is significantly referred to as the prospect of developing a service strategy and working effectively with customer support and success to enhance the experiences of customers. Thus, the service operation that has been chosen for this particular study is baggage handling. With respect to airlines, baggage handling is one of the most crucial services as the customers rely on the company with their valuables (Koenig et al., 2019). The service operation of baggage handling is typically responsible for ensuring that the baggage of passengers is being delivered to them safely after checking in, security, screening, and others. 

A baggage handling system is basically a type of conveyor system that gets installed at the airports and helps in transporting customer baggage from the check-in desk to the areas where they are to be loaded into the aircraft (International Airport Review, 2022). Furthermore, after arriving at the destination the process gets reversed to deliver the baggage to the customer respectively. However, different airlines face various complaints from customer due to mishandling of their valuable baggage which creates chaos in the system of management and also negatively impacts the company's reputation. Hence, based on this, it can be typically understood that the significance of effective service operation of baggage handling in aircraft is extensive.

Current Operational Challenges 

Based on the above discussion, the importance of baggage handling can be understood. Additionally, with respect to EasyJet, different challenges related to baggage handling such as delayed baggage delivery, lost or mishandled baggage, fees, and policies have been identified. It has been found that EasyJet has received more than 565 luggage-related complaints (Giddings, 2023).

The issue with baggage handling has been increasing over the past years. In accordance with a survey, it has been found that 28% of passengers have had their hold luggage mishandled within the last five years. Additionally, 2% of them have even lost their bag with no expectation of getting them back from the airline.

  1. With the list of baggage complaints of EasyJet, the company has ranked third (Finlay, 2023). There have also been complaints from customers that their suitcases failed to arrive at the carousel after an EasyJet flight from Pisa to Gatwick. 
  2. More than 21 days have passed since the customer received their suitcase and the individual has also faced tremendous issues in speaking with anyone from the airline (Brookes, 2022). In this regard, EasyJet has also stated that incidents of lost baggage are very low and that is one of the best performances in the industry (Meierhans, 2023).
  3. However, based on the complaints received from the customers, the statements seem to be vague standing at the third position with the highest number of ln the airline industry.
  4. It has also been found that a person named Chloe had lost her bag worth £1000 and EasyJet has promised her to search for her bag for 45 days (Meierhans, 2023). Additionally, due to losing bags, the company provides £25 per person per day for toiletries and others (Meierhans, 2023). 

However, this is not enough to replace the lost baggage. With respect to fees, the company charges as little as £6.99 for checking in with a 15kg bag if the ticket has been booked online (Potter, 2023). This system has been specifically developed for tempting short-break flyers. However, despite this, the condition that they provide for handling the baggage needs to be reviewed effectively for making success of the strategy of charging low fees to top customers. Thus, from this, it can be significantly understood that the company has different challenges with respect to baggage handling and this particular aspect is impacting its reputation as well. Thus, effective measures need to be undertaken to develop effective baggage handling facilities mitigating the current challenges, and reviving the reputation from the current situation.

Rationale For Tools and Methods

Six-sigma Method

There can be no doubt that Six Sigma is more than just a method of statistical process control.

For future reference, EasyJet will likely call it their "four-step high-performance method for implementing business strategy." Here are the directions:

  1. Align. A balanced scorecard strategy should be utilized to ensure that Six Sigma initiatives contribute to the organization's bottom line.
  2. Mobilise. Sponsored by top managers who function as process advocates, customer-focused team members are given the authority to take action.
  3. Quicken your pace. Teams are mentored and encouraged to keep their projects within track to complete by certain dates.
  4. Lead. Leaders actively support initiatives and disseminate lessons learned to other departments. Customer-critical operations, or processes which have a high influence on consumer happiness, should be given serious consideration for a Six Sigma implementation. In the case of managing the baggage handling of EasyJet, Six sigma can be chosen for the deliverable objects included with team members' focus and reduction in managing the employee distribution policies over several multitasking management (Pekarcikova et al., 2020). Also, tracking the system management for better delivery of managing the service provision is done through the applications of Six Sigma.

Value-stream Mapping

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a powerful lean technique. Teams outline their processes, following tasks or consumers across the system, calculating system time, and recognizing value-adding activities. Tracking the ‘as-is’ process helps produce a leaner ‘to-be’ approach. Value stream mapping, which is larger than process mapping, helps identify waste and its sources in a process.

Five Main VSM Stages:

  1. Choose a value stream—operation, process, or delivery network.
  2. Diagram the information, product, and consumer flows. Record the overall throughput duration for all phases of work or customer processing. This is the ‘as-is’ procedure.
  3. Determine value addition and waste categories. Time taken might indicate waste.
  4. Discuss and streamline the ‘to-be’ process.
  5. Implement and verify how the process/operation/network improves.

Performances Metric Benchmarking

In the case of EasyJet, its challenge over maintaining the baggage of travellers has been found to be appropriately mitigated through Performance metric benchmarking analysis in terms of its solutions for customers' facilities (Setianto et al., 2023). Managing the challenges in airline industry regarding baggage handling, the role of benchmarking analysis has come forward along with its stakeholders' perspective for better management of information handling of customers and their service orientation as well.

Performance metrics benchmarking involves gathering metrics from other operations (known as the comparison target) for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the ‘home’ operations. If an evaluation target employs customer-important metrics, it may be useful benchmarking versus them. Using an internal benchmark gauge, such as the expense of a procedure element, to promote process improvement within the home functioning may be unwise without considering contextual factors like staff numbers, equipment's, technologies, and resources. Whenever a performance metric is internal and opaque to consumers, adopting it to promote performance improvement essentially implies importing the other organization's plan with its resources. Despite these objections, metric benchmarking offers benefits. Why is productivity different? is its main goal.

Data collection 

EasyJet air service is significantly known as a cheap flight across several air services. However, over the 25 years, Easy Jet has become Europe’s leading “short-haul airline”. In this context, it can be further mentioned that Easy Jet plc is a well-known “British multinational low-cost airline” whose headquarters is situated in London. Through the overall discussion, the entire assessment will be tried to shed light on the principal problem of Easy Jet which is the Baggage Handling problem in this competitive business market (Easyjet, 2023a). However, DHL Services Ltd usually handles the baggage problem of Easy Jet company. British Airways usually reported 2nd highest of complaints about Delayed Baggage Delivery and Lost or Mishandled Baggage. Inefficient and ineffective baggage handling processes usually lead to both passenger as well as airline dissatisfaction. 

To address this problem, the most important and significant tool is “Lewin’s change management model”. According to Cone and Unni, (2020), “Lewin's Change Management Model” is an easy and simple to understand framework for managing the change within the organization. With the help of this model, Easy Jet plc can easily understand the actual requirements of the change process within its organization. This low-cost airline usually received around 1000 baggage-related complaints from 2018 to 2022. 

During the financial year of 2018 to 2022, easy Jet usually ranks third with around 565 complaints which are baggage-related issues from valuable passengers (Forbes, 2023). Moreover, in order to mitigate this issue, Easy Jet continuously work with its airport team for significantly returning the passenger's belongings as soon as possible as well as this airline company significantly encourages its valuable customers to submit their complaint through an online portal and the company will confirm to return their belongings (Forbes, 2023). In view of that purpose, to address the problem, Easy Jet can easily implement the CATWOE analysis process for adopting any kind of change. As per the opinion of Tende and Deme, (2022), CATWOE analysis provides any organization for creatively analyse and define the key “business stakeholder perspectives”. Therefore, it can be mentioned that to address the issue, Easy Jet plc can easily follow the overview of CATWOE Analysis and the model of Lewin’s change management.

Analysis of service operation 

Discussing the service operation of any organization is much more important and significant for addressing any kind of specific issues of that organization in this competitive business market. Service operations are usually responsible for improving a service strategy as well as working with customer support, customer success as well as “customer experience teams” (Suopajärvi, 2021). In this context, it can be mentioned that the principal goal of a service operation team is to extend help to an organization to give the best services to its valuable customers in this competitive business market. For that reason, organizations, especially Easy Jet need to have a proper dedicated team who significantly look after the service operational work within the organization in this competitive business market. In other words, Grover et al., (2022), critically mentioned that operational management is necessary for any business organization in view of that it helps an organization effectively manage, supervise, and control the people, services, and goods. The service operation of Easy Jet is the backbone of that company as well as it plays a significant role in the quality improvement of their services. 

In view of that purpose, it can be further referred that Easy Jet Plc airline significantly implements the “Lean Transformation Process Model”, as that emphasizes delivering and improving high levels of consumer satisfaction using less effort and less investment in this competitive business market (Easyjet, 2023b). However, the principal objective of this “Lean Transformation Process Model” is to decrease waste and reduce operational management issues and improve the satisfaction of customers. In other words, as a part of service operation management Easy Jet currently started new routes and started its key operations in both Germany and Austria to mitigate the Brexit challenges. From this perspective, “Inventory Operation Management Theory” is very important and significant. 

According to Tyagi et al., (2023), inventory theory usually shows its concerns with operation management concepts and product design as well as minimising the cost of production in this competitive business market. Therefore, it can be critically mentioned that Easy Jet can follow the rules and characteristics of the “Inventory Operation Management Theory” for mitigating the management-related issues such as Delayed Baggage Delivery, Lost or Mishandled Baggage, Baggage Fees and Policy and others. On the other hand, “Lewin’s change management model” is another important and significant model that helps an organization to creatively address the requirement or need for change within the workplace in this competitive business market (Laveneziana, 2020). Hence, as a part of the service operation system, it is important to deliver and provide good services to valuable customers. For that purpose, Easy Jet needs to deliver and provide convenient flights and services to its valuable customers in this competitive business market. As a part of that Easy Jet Plc currently employs only a creative person to address several issues and complaints.

Evaluation of Operation and Theory

The company has used different tools and techniques to handle their service operations regarding baggage handling. The company has also faced different issues which have reduced consumer satisfaction and there is noticeable grievance regarding the lost and damaged baggage. The use of the Kanban framework has helped EasyJet to deliver real-time communication among the teams during baggage delivery. This has made the system agile and resulted in better services. Kanban has also resulted in work transparency that can help the airlines trace the baggage at the focal points from where they remain untraced. The control charts have also been used to understand the process changes over time (Chakraborti and Graham, 2019). The differences between the upper control limits and lower control limits have established the points for adopting a specific process for baggage handling. The CATWOE has helped EasyJet to analyse the stakeholders' perspectives. The implementation of the tools and methods must be judged from the different stakeholders’ perspectives. This can be done through CATWOE to understand the capability of the changes. The use of the Lewis Change Management Model is essential for engaging the employees and staff of EasyJet within the changes to adopt the tools and methods for the betterment of service operations.

The recommendations that can be provided for EasyJet in the optimum use of the tools and the methods for the operations can be listed as follows:

  1. The airlines can use the CATWOE analysis to understand the stakeholders but this should be maintained through the brainstorming sessions engaging the employees. The employees can give better suggestions for each of the stakeholders which can drive the success of the airlines (Abdi et al., 2022).
  2. The airline should observe the bottlenecks and visual blockers on the Kanban boards to develop insights about working on the limitations and removing the obstructions in the agility of the entire work process.
  3. The control charts can be used for the better identification of the alterations within the system while working on different variables (Aykroyd et al., 2019). The plausible points of alterations should be marked to understand the benefits of the changes and to realign a process that goes beneath the average middle line.

The recommendations are valid as they suggest the better use of the tools and methods used by the airlines. The tools are apt but the better use of them can help to manage the work within the timeframe and efficiently.

Conclusion 

Based on the overall study, it can be concluded that the service operation management with respect to baggage handling of EasyJet has been suffering from various challenges, the company has ranked third with respect to baggage-related issues such as delayed baggage, lost baggage, and fees. Thus, to mitigate these issues, the company needs to apply the Kanban control chart, Catwoe analysis, Lewin's change management, and others for effective management of the current challenges. These tools have been significantly chosen as applying these flexibly in the organisation would be possible. Additionally, the lean transformation process model has been suggested for bringing forth an effective transformation in the company with respect to mitigating the challenges. 

Reference

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Adeoti, O.A. and Koleoso, S.O., 2020. A hybrid homogeneously weighted moving average control chart for process monitoring. Quality and Reliability Engineering International36(6), pp.2170-2186.

Aykroyd, R.G., Leiva, V. and Ruggeri, F., 2019. Recent developments of control charts, identification of big data sources and future trends of current research. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 144, pp.221-232.

Brookes, J., 2022.  EasyJet lost my suitcase — and now I can’t get compensation’. [Online]. Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/easyjet-lost-my-suitcase-and-now-i-cant-get-compensation-z3nnx7b2k [Accessed on 27 October 2023]

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Cone, C. and Unni, E., 2020. Achieving consensus using a modified Delphi Technique embedded in Lewin's change management model designed to improve faculty satisfaction in a pharmacy school. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 16(12), pp.1711-1717.

Easyjet, 2023a. EasyJet plc is a British multinational low-cost airline group headquartered at . Available at: https://www.easyjet.com/en [Accessed on 27 October 2023]

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Forbes, 2023. Baggage Blues: The Airlines Where Your Hold Luggage Is Most At Risk https://www.forbes.com/uk/advisor/travel-insurance/airlines-where-your-luggage-is-most-at-risk/

Giddings, A., 2023. (Baggage) hall of shame: Airlines with the most lost luggage complaints revealed. [Online]. Available at: https://metro.co.uk/2023/08/09/airline-most-luggage-complaints-revealed-19304885/ [Accessed on 27 October 2023]

Grover, P., Kar, A.K. and Dwivedi, Y.K., 2022. Understanding artificial intelligence adoption in operations management: insights from the review of academic literature and social media discussions. Annals of Operations Research, 308(1-2), pp.177-213.

International Airport Review, 2022. Tech Talk: The role of Baggage Handling Systems – (BHS). [Online]. Available at: https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/176944/tech-talk-the-role-of-baggage-handling-systems-bhs/ [Accessed on 27 October 2023]

Koenig, F., Found, P. and Kumar, M., 2019. Improving maintenance quality in airport baggage handling operations. Total quality management & business excellence, 30(sup1), pp.S35-S52.

Laveneziana, M., 2020. Change Management–A competitive edge in today’s world?.

Meierhans, J., 2023. Lost luggage showing signs of recovery after hitting 10-year high. [Online]. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-66438234 [Accessed on 27 October 2023]

Paucar‐Caceres, A., Cavalcanti‐Bandos, M.F., Quispe‐Prieto, S.C., Huerta‐Tantalean, L.N. and Werner‐Masters, K., 2022. Using soft systems methodology to align community projects with sustainability development in higher education stakeholders' networks in a Brazilian university. Systems Research and Behavioral Science39(4), pp.750-764.

Pekarcikova, M., Trebuna, P., Kliment, M. and Rosocha, L., 2020. Material flow optimization through e-kanban system simulation. International Journal of Simulation Modelling19(2), pp.243-254.

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