9 Benchmarks For Getting More Airline Shuttle Contracts

Martin Romjue
Posted on December 13, 2017
Randel Holmes, strategic sourcing manager for corporate logsitics and supply chain management for Delta Airlines, speaks to members of the MLOA on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 near Orlando, Fla. (photo courtesy of MLOA)
Randel Holmes, strategic sourcing manager for corporate logsitics and supply chain management for Delta Airlines, speaks to members of the MLOA on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 near Orlando, Fla. (photo courtesy of MLOA)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Shuttle work may be an old reliable revenue stream for operators, but the list of expectations and requirements can get super-specific depending on the contract and its volume.

Operators from around the U.S. heard some first-rate advice from one of the largest shuttle contractors worldwide, Delta Airlines. Randel Holmes, strategic sourcing manager for corporate logistics and supply chain management, shared an insider’s wish list on Oct. 24 with attendees at a Minority Limousine Operators of America meeting during the Chauffeur Driven Show.

Delta, with employees worldwide, runs 5,400 flights a day around the globe in 57 countries. The airline spends $300 million per year on hotels and ground transportation for its crews and employees, with eight percent, or $24 million, devoted to flight crew transportation between airports and hotels in the U.S.

“We're always running bids and RFPs all the time,” Holmes said. “We're looking for diverse ground transportation providers in our service line.”

Check out new shuttle vehicles and valuable how-to info on shuttle transportation in the January 2018 issue of LCT Magazine.

Among the service attributes and demands Delta seeks in a shuttle contract:

Being on time all the time: “We can't take off if the crew's not on time,” Holmes said. “There's a 15 minute cut-off. So, once you receive the notification, you have 15 minutes to be onsite. If you're not there in 15 minutes, the pilots, they will find alternative transportation.” Delta’s service level agreements (SLAs) in its contracts require pilots to find alternative transportation if a shuttle is late, and that work can trickle down to back-up shuttle operators.  

Holmes spoke to a full house of operators interested in airline-related shuttle contract work.
Holmes spoke to a full house of operators interested in airline-related shuttle contract work.
Provide as many vehicles as required: An Airbus A320, for example, has a crew of about 11-13 pilots and flight attendants. “So, imagine you have three 747s, a couple A350s coming in for the day, you have to be able to accommodate that crew,” Holmes said. “And typically what we like to see is that each member of the crew has a seat and a safety belt.”

Exclusive shuttle vehicles: These cannot be used for other purposes. Crew vehicles must be dedicated to the airline. “We don't want to make stops along the way,” he said.

Careful with the branding: Operators should not use any signage on the vehicles or near them that states “Ground transportation for crew,” or “airport crew transportation.” Delta prefers either no branding or very generic labeling. “Terrorists nowadays love soft targets,” Holmes said. “I can't think of a softer target than a crew riding in a shuttle that's branded ‘crew transportation.”

Safety belts!: “One of the complaints that we get from our flight attendants all the time is that the vehicle was not equipped with safety belts or there were safety belts, but they were not operable,” Holmes said. Delta requires seat belts in all of its ground transportation RFPs.

Insurance coverages: General liability must be at least, $5 million; workers’ comp, $1 million; and automobile liability, $5 million.

Driver behavior: Delta has a process where its employees can file complaints directly to an online portal via instant messaging. The airline wants the ability to relay that complaint to the shuttle provider immediately. This process helps alert a provider if a driver is sleep, impaired, or distracted. An internal survey of its flight crews showed drivers distracted by smartphones or electronic equipment as the most common concern. Delta now prefers shuttle vendors who have driver monitoring technology aboard their fleet vehicles to see if a driver is sleepy or distracted. “We're excited about that type of technology,” Holmes said. “If you have it, you want to put that in your RFP.”

Separate sections for luggage: Shuttle vans and buses carrying Delta crews must have walled off luggage compartments. “If the vehicle is traveling 20 miles an hour and the driver suddenly stops, well the luggage is still traveling at 20 miles an hour,” he said. “It becomes a projectile.” RFPs must include verification of separate luggage compartments. “We also want to make sure that the vehicle is locked and protected at all times; that no one has access to the baggage.”

Complete records: Shuttle van operators must provide records for maintenance, onboard heating and A/C, safety records, driver bios and background check information, and insurance policy verifications, among others.

“We are serious about safety,” Holmes said. The airline has across the board vendor penalties for any service quality that is not met. “We're so serious that it will financially impact your business if you're not safe or if you're not hiring safe drivers. You want to prove to Delta Airlines that you run a safe operation.”

Related Topics: airlines, airport contracts, Corporate RFPs, customer contracts, How To, Minority Limousine Operators of America, minority-owned businesses, procurement

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Roger

     | about 7 months ago

    Where can you go to find listings for contracts like these?

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