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Airtran bucks trend, opens new center in W. GA

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AirTran to open Carrollton call center


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

AirTran Airways plans to open a call center this spring in Carrollton that will employ up to 200 people.

The fast-growing discount airline said it chose the west Georgia city over five others with significant populations of college students or other potential part-time workers, including Bloomington, Ill., and Orlando, AirTran's headquarters.

"We're going to try to draw from the student population," spokesman Tad Hutcheson said.

About 60 percent of the employees at the call center, which will handle reservations and other customer calls, will be part-timers starting at $8.50 an hour.

The center opens in late March, and the State University of West Georgia will help recruit, screen and train workers, Hutcheson said. It will be housed in a rented facility near the university.

Several major U.S. companies have run into a backlash by outsourcing such jobs to facilities with lower-paid employees in India, the Philippines and other countries.

Delta Air Lines planned to shift some reservations center jobs to contractors in India and the Philippines, but scaled back the project to a tiny portion of its reservations work, done by one contractor in India.

Hutcheson said AirTran looked overseas. "We looked very hard at India, specifically," he said. "We believe, based on our analysis, that we can do it more efficiently than they can by partnering with a college, and we believe we can deliver better customer service."

Hutcheson said the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism has tentatively agreed to provide incentives but declined to give details. Agency officials could not be reached.

The center will be AirTran's third in Georgia, home to about 4,000 of AirTran's 5,600 employees and the majority of its flight operations. The other centers, in College Park and Savannah, employ about 700.

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