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Airline Ethics

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        <p><strong>Introduction</strong></p>
<p>Ethics are essential in the Airline industry because they are the
framework that guides individuals in the process of making business
decisions. They usually encompass three features i.e. an application of
one's professional skills, incorporation of one's personal values and
lastly, good judgment. Codes of ethics are formal declarations of the
moral values that guide various companies. Therefore, in the field of
ethics, one can analyze an industry such as an Airline industry through
its practical implementations and also through its formal
declarations.</p>
<p><strong>Ethical guidelines</strong></p>
<p><strong>Conflict of interest as part of ethical guidelines/code of
conduct</strong></p>
<p>Almost all Airline companies have formal declarations of their codes
of ethics. Usually, this can be categorized under a series of topics such
as conflict of interest, asset protection and working together. Conflict
of interest refers to those scenarios where employees or company
representatives have to decide between their interests to their employer
or their personal/investment/ relationship obligations. Usually, most
Airline companies have highlighted some of the issues that can be labeled
conflict of interests in their ethics code of conduct. (Frontier
airlines, 2004)</p>
<p>For instance, conflict of interest comes about when Airline personnel
receive gifts or rewards from suppliers/ consumers/ stakeholders for
doing their job. Usually, most Airlines prohibit gifts especially when
those gifts seem excessive. The reason behind this is that when a client
gives an attendant an expensive piece of jewelry for receiving very good
customer service, that attendant may be obliged to meet the consumer's
demands the next time the client reports even when those demands are not
procedural. This is because by accepting lavish gifts, one puts
himself/herself in a position where they feel obligated to meet the gift
giver's needs and this eventually compromises their moral
obligations.</p>
<p>Conflict of interest may also occur when a member of staff finds that
they have to work extremely hard with certain clients and they request
those suppliers/clients for rewards for their services. This is a
conflict of interest because an employee finds that they have to choose
between maintaining a good name for their Airline or meeting their
personal financial interests. Consequently, it becomes necessary for
Airlines to clarify that this is a wrong thing.</p>
<p>Additionally, conflict of interest may also arise when an employee
works for different companies. Usually, working for other Airlines is not
a violation of ethics codes in itself, however, it may become a source of
conflict of interest in certain special circumstances. For example, when
a staff member within one Airline company chooses to work for a competing
Airline company, then this can be regarded as conflict of interest.
However, the latter case usually applies to management level personnel
rather than junior level employees. As managers, one would find that they
have conflicting interests between improving their own company's
performance or improving their competitors. (Frontier airlines, 2004)</p>
<p>Additionally, conflicts of interests in this line of argument may also
arise when employees have investments in competing Airlines. Such
personnel may find it difficult to give their utmost devotion to one's
company performance when the other company stands to loose if the former
company does well. This eventually creates a dilemma for the employee and
may even hurt one or both Airlines. However, because this issue is fairly
sensitive and debatable, then it is advisable for employees to discuss
investment decisions with their respective human resource managers so as
to ascertain that they are not violating their Airline's moral code.</p>
<p>Additionally, conflict of interest may arise when one takes advantage
of their position in order to harness corporate opportunities. For
instance, when an Airline attendant talk with a client about a deal that
may also be linked to their respective Airline, then this is a conflict
of interests. In order for one to ascertain that they meet their
respective ethical obligations, it is essential for employees to discuss
possible corporate opportunities with their human resource
representatives so as to make sure that they can meet these obligations
well.</p>
<p>Conflict of interests may also arise when one has to work hand in hand
with their family members, friends or spouses. Usually, this may not be a
problem for Some Airlines, however, certain situations my arise when one
finds that they have to choose between their obligations to their
employer or their obligations to their friends or family. This impedes
their work output and may be considered unethical. It should be noted
that different Airlines have different rules based on this issue. Some
companies only allow one family member within the company, other Airlines
do not allow spouses in the same company while others do no permit any
ties with other employees in the organization. In other circumstances, it
is possible to find that an Airline allows all the latter issues.
Consequently, these are issues that new employees have to familiarize
themselves with as they join an Airline. (Frontier airlines, 2004)</p>
<p>Conflicts of interest may also arise when investors or company
employees decide to liaise with other Airlines to compete unfairly in the
industry. Usually, many Airlines prohibit engaging in any agreements with
competitors on issues that may present conflict of interests. Examples of
such issues include;</p>
<ul>
<li>Agreeing to boycott suppliers</li>
<li>Deciding to allocate certain clients to one Airline</li>
<li>Manipulating clients or distributors</li>
<li>Deciding to fix prices</li>
<li>Fixing terms of ale</li>
<li>Etc</li>
</ul>
<p>When employees opt to cooperate with other Airlines to institute any
of the latter mentioned issues, then their will be competing unfairly and
this means that they are violating their moral codes.</p>
<p><strong>Asset Protection as part of ethical guidelines/codes of
conduct</strong></p>
<p>Many companies may prohibit their employees from wasting company
resources or misusing it because this is still a violation of the ethics
code. For example, when one finds that they want to use a company car for
their personal interests instead of allocating it to its rightful
function, then this means that one is not protecting their company
interests. Usually, this is as a result of the nature of that respective
company's opportunities. Individuals need to look for ways in which they
can protect their company business interests through their assets. It
should be noted that assets may incorporate a number of examples;
technology, intellectual property and physical property all fall under
this category. This also means that most Airlines expect their personnel
to keep company information private. Since many employees have
contributed to the performance of a given company, then Airlines need to
ascertain that their employees keep their trade secrets within the
company. This means that it would be considered unethical for an employee
to use a company logo unscrupulously, or to utilize sensitive information
like social security numbers or credit card numbers. In line with this is
the issue of information security. Employees must ensure that they keep
things such as passwords secret even when they are pressed for time. It
is also crucial for staff members in Airlines to retain records. Since
Airlines are based on record implementation, then is critical for
employees to ensure that these are adhered to in the process. (Mc Donald,
2008)</p>
<p>Accounting standards and financial standards apply to Airline
companies as they do to all other businesses. It is essential for Airline
employees to meet these standards by ensuring that their financial
figures are credible and that they have not been changed in any way to
give the company or the respective employee undue advantage. It should be
noted that accounting standards do not just apply to respective companies
alone, they also apply to all other companies that operate within these
institutions. Consequently, it would be favorable for an Airline to
ensure that all their members understand these ethical obligations.
Examples of records that require accounting standards include time
sheets, bills, regulatory data, expense reports, payroll; information
among others.</p>
<p><strong>Working together as part of the code of ethics</strong></p>
<p>Many Airlines are driven by the need to respect each other in their
lines of duty. Consequently, most of them usually ensure that they
respect the issue of diversity, other people' cultures and lifestyles
too. Usually, this aspect is prevalent in most Airline recruitment
exercises. A number of Airlines are committed towards establishing
diverse work groups and they adhere to this in their employment
practices. Additionally, many companies have made it part of their
ethical codes of conduct to restrict harassment based on gender, race,
age or any other attributes. Besides the later, employees are usually
required to meet their obligations regardless of their affiliation to a
client, supplier or any other stakeholder. For instance, when one chooses
to give their friend or family member special attention in comparison to
other passengers in the plane, then this can be a violation of a
company's ethical rules. Usually, most companies require that their
employees meet their ethical procedures without favor. It is also
essential for employees to avoid giving out travel privileges. Many
Airlines offer travelling privileges to their employees. Employees ought
to ensure that they do not violate these privileges by giving them to
friends or family. (Mc Donald, 2008)</p>
<p>Companies usually ensure that their employees meet these ethical
obligations through a number of channels. For instance, they may decide
to establish ethical committees. Also, they may decide to look for ways
in which this can be achieved through the establishment of strict
repercussions for lack of implementation of these systems. By doing this,
employees will go a long way in protecting their company name.</p>
<p><strong>Examples of how ethics have been adhered to or violated in the
airline industry</strong></p>
<p>After examining the contents of most Airline companies' ethics codes,
it is essential to find out if Airlines actually follow these rules and
obligations. Records show that a large portion of ethical guidelines
actually act as the moral framework in various companies. However, one
cannot undermine numerous reports in the media about ethics violations.
This section of the essay shall look at such examples.</p>
<p><strong>The case of South West Airline</strong></p>
<p>The Federal Aviation Authority is a governing body that issues
aviation directives in inspection of planes. Usually, airlines are
supposed to conduct mechanical checks on all planes after specified time
limits. This is usually necessary because when one examines an airplane's
tip during fight, it is usually common to find that the tip wiggles a
bit. Airplane designers create the airplane in such a manner  so that a
plane is light enough to take off from the ground. However, after
subsequent exposure to stress through numerous flights, then airplane
wings or other fuselage parts, may begin to crack and if left unchecked,
they can lead to serious accidents. (Scheifer, 2003)</p>
<p>A case in point was a plane that belonged to the Ahoi Airline in 1988.
This plane had not been inspected for a long time for cracks or any other
signs of mechanical defects. During one of their flights, the plane's top
flew off and took with it an air plane attendant who died immediately.
The rest of the people in the plane were lucky enough to arrive safely in
nearby airports because their pilot controlled the plane regardless of
the crisis. All that could have been avoided only if the planes had been
inspected as stipulated by the Federal Aviation Authority.</p>
<p>The latter event took place some twenty years ago, but it serves as a
lesson to current airplanes today. Southwest Airlines is one of the
reputable companies in the US aviation industry. However, there are still
numerous ethical violations that arise out of failure to meet their
airline ethical standards. The company is required to perform airplane
checks or cracks frequently. However, a check by a Federal Aviation
Authority employee in 2007 found that the company's inspections records
were so mixed up that they implied that the company had not been
performing checks as regularly as they should. Additionally, the FAA
employee also found that some planes were behind on their checks by as
much as one and a half years yet they were still being permitted to fly.
This implied that Southwest Airlines were violating their obligations to
the consumer and to their in-flight employees who had a right to fly
safely. When this employee decided to report the case, he was advised by
the Federal Aviation Authority to tone down the letter of investigation
he had written against Southwest Airlines to a letter of concern. This
case illustrated just how some regulators and Airlines liaise with one
another to create unfair and unsafe business environments. (Scheifer,
2003)</p>
<p><strong>The case of climate change</strong></p>
<p>The aviation industry is one of the most talked about industries under
environmental issues. Experts assert that this industry is responsible
for some of the highest forms of carbon emissions within the atmosphere
and it would therefore be unethical to encourage the growth of the
industry. A case in point was witnessed in Britain when an investment
firm known as Standard Life chose to eliminate all Airlines out of its
list of firms to invest in. Examples of companies that were affected
include Easy Jet and British Airways. Standard Life investment firm's
representatives asserted that the airline industry was responsible for
close to seventeen percent of all carbon emissions in the United Kingdom.
They also asserted that these same British airlines employees contributed
to two percent of the world's carbon gases. Consequently, encouraging
them to do business was encouraging the emission of gases that could be a
threat to man' sustainability in the future and this was unethical.
(Jamieson, 2008)</p>
<p>However, there were a number of controversial issues that represented
themselves in that scenario. For instance, numerous investment firms
(including the one that boycotted all UK airlines) utilize Airline
services or air travel to conduct their business. Consequently, while
boycotting investments in those companies, Standard group personnel still
continued to use their services and those contravened the very purpose of
the survey.</p>
<p>Besides the latter, not all aviation companies produce the same amount
of carbon emissions. For instance, statistics show that private charter
planes are more efficient than economy class planes because the number
off emissions attributed to passengers is mush less in the former rather
than the latter category. In light of the above, boycotting all airline
companies without consideration of the nature of each violation has been
called unfair by certain airlines. (Jamieson, 2008)</p>
<p>However, standard Life asserted that they came to this decision after
conducting a survey that represented thirty thousand stakeholders. The
investment firm took a sample of three thousand to assess their opinions
on the issue of Airline companies and their environmental impact. It was
found that seventeen percent of the respondents thought that
environmental impact should be the number one priority in addressing
ethical issues. Others have other priorities but they all revolved around
social responsibility. The same group rated airline companies in the same
category as pornographic companies, arms dealers and other negative
companies. This was because all these companies conducted their
businesses regardless of the effect that it had on society.</p>
<p>However, others have argued that by boycotting Airlines, Standard Life
Investment was not being part of the solution but part of the problem.
These companies argue that if the investment firms really wanted to
institute change, then they needed to look for mechanisms that would
allow them to work hand in hand with these people. For instance, if they
continued to invest in Airline, then they would still be in a position
that would allow them to change the behavior of those airline companies.
However, by boycotting them, they moved from a state of action to
inaction as Airlines would not be compelled to change their ways.</p>
<p>Regardless of these conflicting schools of thought, it is necessary to
realize that Airline companies have not been acting ethically by emitting
excessive carbon gases in the atmosphere. Most of them do not care about
the impact they will have in the environment yet this is a serious
problem today. Companies can start instituting mechanisms that facilitate
change in this regard. (Jamieson, 2008)</p>
<p><strong>The case of frequent flier programs</strong></p>
<p>Many credit card companies have liaised with aviation companies to
ensure that consumers only utilize their modes of payments when
purchasing air fights. While this may seem like a relatively normal thing
to do, it can be considered unethical because credit card consumers who
use their visa cards to pay for airline tickets in frequent flier
programs are entitled to higher levels of compensation than those who use
cash. This is quite unfair because in normal circumstances, cash
consumers are always supposed to pay less than credit card consumers.
However, visa companies have created a system in which they charge their
merchants extra costs and then lure consumers into using only their
products when purchasing air tickets so that they can pay less. By
teaming up with airlines to create a monopoly of some sort on the
industry, these airlines and credit card companies are creating a
monopoly by giving themselves undue advantage. (Doug, 2006)</p>
<p>Besides this, the issue of frequent flier programs is another
unethical procedure used by airlines to ensure domination of consumers.
For instance, when a client approaches an airline to purchase a ticket,
that consumer will be given an incentive to ensure that they stick to a
certain category of tickets known as the frequent flier programs. By
giving the client an incentive to come back to the company even when
their air services are poor, then airline companies are engaging in
malpractice. (Doug, 2006)</p>
<p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p>
<p>Many companies have created ethical rules and procedures to assist
their representatives in business processes. While these ethical codes
assist a wide range of employees, there are numerous cases in which
companies violate these terms. Examples include monopoly in service
provision by liaising with suppliers, lack of fulfilling environment
obligations and non-compliance to mechanical investigations.</p>
<p><strong>Reference </strong></p>
<p>Jamieson, A. (2008): Airlines are akin to arms dealers in ethics
stakes; Scotland on Sunday Newspaper, 16Th September 2008</p>
<p>Mc Donald, C. (2008): Ethical issues in aviation, Associate press</p>
<p>Frontier airlines (2004); Code of Business conduct and ethics,
retrieved from <a rel="nofollow"
onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/1810943']);"
href="http://www.frontierairlines.com/frontier/pdf/code_of_business_condu
ct_and_ethics.pdf">http://www.frontierairlines.com/frontier/pdf/code_of_b
usiness_conduct_and_ethics.pdf</a> accessed on 17th November 2008</p>
<p>Doug, T. (2006): Ethics of frequent flier programs, retrieved from <a
rel="nofollow" onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview',
'/outgoing/article_exit_link/1810943']);"
href="http://www.coyoteblog.com/">http://www.coyoteblog.com/</a> accessed
on 17th November 2008</p>
<p>Scheifer, B. (2003): Apologies versus ethics, Washington Post</p>
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