the customer is a baby…

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I’ve paid so much more for my tickets to the US, I thought all costs that go to flying a plane have gone up. Not true. I went today with a group of delegates to three plants that make aerospace components and subsystems. All three plants have elaborate programs that lower cost in their every process and also in their supplier-factories. Their success in cost-reduction are celebrated on every wall of their plants, and the extent of savings is so dramatic, my ticket should have cost less than half I paid.

In the evening on my second day there, in a plush hall in the the best hotel in town, amid the distracting aromas of an expensive dinner that lay outside, a senior executive from a top-two aircraft builder spoke to us: He has worked in the automotive industry in the past, where their creed was: The customer is king. What he demands, he should get. "Not in aerospace, though," the speaker lamented: "In the aerospace industry the customer never gets the low lead-time he needs, and never the low price. In this industry the customer is no king—he is a baby—he demands and loses and cries.” His audience were mainly his suppliers, so grim faces looked up at him.

The next speaker was from a leading international airline: “Every time the cost of fuel rises by a-dollar-a-barrel my corporation has lost forty-million dollars for the year,” he declared.

It doesn’t appear that I’ll pay less for my next ticket.