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News : Virgin Atlantic Closes Nigeria’s Contact Centre
Nov 17, 2014 -- Travellers going to Europe and beyond with Virgin Atlantic may find it difficult to book for flights or carry out travel transactions with the airline as it has proposed to close down its contact centre in Nigeria after asking its staff to go.
BusinessDay learnt that the move by the airline may not be unconnected with the plan to cut cost in a restructuring programme.
Apart from the fact that the staff will be thrown into the labour market, the difficulty in booking/paying for flight tickets may be compounded as Virgin does not allow Nigerians to pay with credit cards.
Kudirat Scott-Igbene, the airline’s spokesperson in Nigeria, however, said henceforth, flight bookings, complaints or travel related calls from Nigeria will be directed to Johannesburg in South Africa, adding that the airline continues to review its business while driving efficiencies.
"Virgin Atlantic is focused on our long-term success and future growth so that we can invest into providing the best service possible to our customers.
We need to make sure that we are delivering what matters to them, while continuously reviewing our business and driving efficiencies where we can. We know that today’s customers want the ability to book flights at a time which is flexible and suitable for them.
"Therefore, we are proposing to close the Lagos contact centre and direct calls from Nigeria to the Johannesburg contact centre. Having one regional contact centre will mean we can serve our customers 24 hours during week days while delivering efficiencies. Our customers can also make their booking on the Virgin Atlantic website", she said.
Speaking on the matter, Olu Ohunayo, a travel consultant, said as much as it is commendable that the airline would be the first to employ Nigerian cabin crew, those in that department would be suddenly thrown into the unemployment market even-though the move is in line with the global restructuring plan.
"Well it’s no secret that Virgin Atlantic is under-going some cost restructuring and has done everything possible to cross the red line. They have closed some routes, reduced frequencies on some while practically tearing down the low cost unit of the airline. I feel the closing of the ticketing and sales department here in Nigeria is in line with the worldwide restructuring.
"There will be loss of jobs as Nigerians in this department will be thrown into the labour market. Sales of their tickets will now be driven by the traveling agencies and online bookings. I just hope they have put in place facilities to ensure smooth online transactions and a back-up 24 hours line that will respond to customers’ request, having in mind that their flights are international and the online sales technology still has some challenges in Nigeria. I also want to commend them for being the first foreign airline to employ Nigerian based cabin crew which they maintain till date", he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Virgin Atlantic is a British airline and part of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.
Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2014