Vanguard Airlines gets off the ground with a new reservation center in Lawrence.
Those people who call to make reservations on Vanguard Airlines probably will talk to a Kansas University student.
The Lawrence Vanguard reservations center added 150 employees this week to bring its part-time work force to a total of 350. Most are KU students.
The discount airline plans to hire about 100 more employees to begin attending training courses in July. Workers learn proper telephone etiquette, gain an understanding of the airline industry and how to take reservations and operate the computer system.
The office at 1601 W. 23rd has 125 work stations in operation from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Each customer service representative has access to a flight reservation computer system and a telephone at his or her station. Phone representatives can make travel reservations, check flight status and offer flight price information.
When the center first opened May 13, employees handled about 200 calls a day. Now that the staff has increased and employees have become acquainted with the system, more than 5,000 calls a day are funneled through the Lawrence office.
Vanguard opened the Lawrence office after the reservations center in Mission outgrew its space. Doug Haase, director of reservations, said Lawrence was an ideal location for the company to take advantage of the college-student work force. Part-time positions start at $5 a hour, offer flight benefits and vacation pay.
"We hardly had to place an ad for our positions," Haase said. "We have people coming to our door daily looking for part-time work. It seems like we've really found a good match here in Lawrence."
Even with the opening of Idelman Marketing Inc., a telemarketing company just a few doors down from Vanguard, neither company has had problems finding employees for the 550 or more jobs created between the two new businesses in the past two months.
In addition to the customer representatives, Vanguard has hired 15 full-time managers to staff the new office.
The Kansas-City based airline has corporate offices at Kansas City International Airport and in Mission.
The airline needed the additional staff after expanding its flight services to Los Angeles and San Francisco, which put the "call volume right off the charts," said Bill Shay, general manager of the Lawrence center.
Vanguard Airlines Inc., a publicly held company, began service Dec. 4, 1994, offering passengers low fares to cities from the Midwest to California.