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SPRINT HELPS VALUJET SOAR

 KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's newest airline has decided to take off with Sprint (NYSE: FON).
 ValuJet, a new economy jet airline headquartered in Atlanta, selected Sprint as its long distance carrier "because Sprint best reflected our own philosophy of value and innovation," said Ian Mearns, vice president of automation for ValuJet.
 "We took the approach that here's our concept -- value-based pricing -- and that's what we expected from our long-distance carrier," said Mearns, who opened up the company's phone line reservation system on Oct. 18.
 "We simply wanted someone who would treat us fairly and help us grow," he continued. "Sprint was willing to do that with us, while putting forth a lot of extra effort to support our innovation and high levels of service to our customers."
 As part of the company's innovative strategy, ValuJet does not issue tickets to customers. Instead, customers receive a confirmation number, like they would for a hotel room. Seats are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis when customers check in at the airport gate. Flight attendants dress casually, emphasizing the "free spirit" of the airline, which uses a cartoon airplane as a logo.
 ValuJet's philosophy has proven to be a winning one, with the airline enjoying great success during its first six weeks of flying. ValuJet, which launched its first flights to three Florida cities in late October, is now flying to five cities, with two more (New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn.) scheduled to start Thursday (Dec. 9).
 Mearns credits Sprint with helping make the airline's debut a smooth one. The dividends of selecting Sprint, which provides ValuJet's inbound 800 service and data links to airports to provide its crews with flight information, have proven even more beneficial than cost savings, he said.
 "Sprint has been extremely responsive to our needs as they have arisen," he said. "For example, we had a switching problem not long ago that had nothing to do with what Sprint was doing, but technicians at Sprint knew we were having a problem before we did. They helped us reroute the calls and fix the problem in less than 10 minutes."
 Not that ValuJet is lacking for calls. When the company first projected customer calling volume, it expected to receive a maximum of 6,000 calls per day. As it has turned out, the maximum was closer to the minimum, with ValuJet reservation agents answering anywhere from 5,000 to 9,000 calls per day.
 Many of those calls are coming in on the 800 number -- 800-VALUJET -- that Sprint set up for customers to call from outside the Atlanta area to find out information and to make reservations. Within the Atlanta area (404 area code), customers can dial 994-VALU.
 "The customer response has been unbelievable," said Mearns, "and Sprint has helped us meet that demand. Naturally, our start-up period was critical, and Sprint has provided us with exceptional service when we needed it."
 "Sprint prides itself on the service and value it provides to its customers, so it was a natural fit for us to work with ValuJet," said Kevin E. Brauer, president of Sprint's Business Market Group, based in Atlanta. "It has been great to see ValuJet's quick success in the tough airline industry, and we look forward to working with them for a long time."
 ValuJet, whose theme is "Good Times, Great Fares," began service Oct. 26 offering low everyday fares on flights to Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla. Flights to Fort Lauderdale and Louisville, Ky., began Nov. 4, with New Orleans and Memphis slated for this week. ValuJet also is planning to announce soon that three additional cities will be added to its daily flight schedules.
 "We want to make flying fun for our customers, and judging from those who have flown with us, I think they are getting that message," said Mearns.
 Sprint is a diversified, worldwide international telecommunications company with more than $10 billion in annual revenues and the United States' only nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network. Its divisions provided global long distance voice, data and video products and services, local telephone services to more than 6 million subscriber lines in 19 states and cellular operations that service 42 million metropolitan markets and more than 50 rural service areas.
 -0- 12/8/93
 /CONTACT: Norman Black, 404-859-6096, or home, 404-578-0679, or Rick Johnson, 404-859-6095, or home, 404-421-8820, both of Sprint/
 (FON)


CO: Sprint; ValuJet ST: Missouri, Georgia IN: AIR TLS SU:

MH-DC -- DC010 -- 1705 12/08/93 10:57 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 8, 1993
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