Delta pulls back call-centre jobs from Wipro

Delta Air Lines, the world's largest commercial carrier after its merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008, said that it is pulling back 2,000 jobs from its India-based call centers that handle sales and reservations, claiming customer dissatisfaction, after six years of having outsourced the call services.

Plunging sales after the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US, led Delta and United Airlines, among others, to outsource some reservation calls to India with Delta contracting the sales and reservations operations to India's third-largest IT firm, Wipro Infotech, in 2002, saying that the move would save the company about $25 million a year.

Citing mounting customer complaints over difficulty in communicating with Indian call centre employees, the Atlanta-based airline says it stopped routing calls to the Wipro call centre in Bangalore from the beginning of this year though it had not stopped the airlines' correspondence operations being carried out by Wipro.

Delta chief executive Richard Anderson said in a recorded message to employees that it moved all calls out of India in the first quarter of this year as, ''Customer acceptance of call centre representatives in other countries was low, and our customers are not shy about letting us have that feedback.''

The company says it would still keep its call centres in Jamaica and South Africa operational since there were not many complaints against them, but added that it would prune staff  in the two countries in the coming months.

Delta had outsourced over 6,000 call centre jobs to India, South Africa and Jamaica in 2002 with more than half of being handled by wipro. Although Delta had closed three call centres in India in 2004 when it ran into financial problems, Wipro still managed to rake in an estimated $15-$30 million a year through this contract with Delta.