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World Aviation Group diversifying and expanding

The World Aviation Group (WAG) is diversifying and expanding, ready to take on whatever role helps to grow the business.

WAG was set up in 1989 as a joint venture between Air Malta and Cassar Aviation Services, originally as a general sales agent for various airlines in Malta.

In 2006, it added a call centre, under the Centrecom brand, and grew rapidly, offering customer care and a year later, BPO Services was set up to offer back office assistance for revenue accounting. The recently appointed chief executive officer Nadia Pace is confident that the group has now built up sufficient momentum and growth.

Ms Pace has worked for WAG as the business development manager since 2008, except for an 11-month period. She has seen the company grow to over 240 employees.

The call centre offers 24/7 support for Air Malta, from reservations and ticketing to frequent flyer programmes and refunds.

It also provides services to government entities such as the Inland Revenue Department, Transport Malta, Arms and the Employment and Training Corporation.

More recently, it took over all the customer care support for Israeli gaming company Lotter, mostly on a B2B basis with the company’s agents but also with some direct customer support.

The latest addition is Gumtree UK, part of eBay Classifieds’ group, for which it offers full customer support, including content moderation, live chat, phone and email support, and even fraud detection.

“We now process over 3 million transactions a year and moderate over 4 million replies a year. It is always a steep learning curve when you take on a new client, but we do our utmost to come up to speed as soon as possible. First call resolution is more and more important. This is why we also firmly believe in providing feedback to the client on the issues being raised as this insight is the best way to improve customer care,” she explained.

However, the client is not the only focus for the company: Ms Pace also believes that one of the group’s strengths is its team and she said the attrition rate – at around 20-25 per cent – was not as high as the industry’s.

“The fact that we cover so many sectors makes it very interesting and challenging for our customer service team, and ensures career progression,” she said.

The majority of the call centre team is Maltese but the need for languages like Hebrew and Russian means some foreigners are being taken on.

“For the main European languages, the pool of multilingual Maltese is improving all the time,” she said. “It is one of our unique selling points, along with the fact that Malta is still cost-effective for nearshoring compared with Western Europe. And of course, we also have strong cultural ties with Europe which makes it easy for us to align with our clients’ business ethic.”

Just as Centrecom has diversified its client base, so has BPO Services. This company offers very specific and skilled services – revenue accounting – which has to keep tabs on the revenue from tickets sold and complete the picture by keeping track of whether the ticket has actually been used, what proportion of it is due to other airlines on that ticket’s route, as well as breaking the revenue down by flight, tax, fuel surcharge and also refunds.

When it was set up in 2006, Air Malta was its main client but it now also services APG.

The group has another unit – Aviation Online – which has taken over the original role of general sales agent (GSA), representing Air Berlin, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Brussels Airlines, Nikki, Aegean Airlines and Fiji Airways – the latter for the whole of Europe.

“Even with online sales, the role of the GSA remains important as the market is too small to justify an office, but the airlines still require someone to handle sales and marketing, agent support and other roles,” Ms Pace said.

“Our vision is to extend the services of Aviation Online to other countries.

“We also have offices in Libya. Currently the Tripoli office is open but the Benghazi one is temporarily closed.

“Airlines find it very difficult to operate under present conditions in Libya so we have a major advantage being able to offer them a ready-made solution with our office still operating in Tripoli.”

Source: Times of Malta

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