Crisis always poses some threats to human beings and questions the traditional approaches to compel them to find a novel and effective solution. The global disruption created by Coronavirus is abrupt and has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the world. The changes are visible in all industries and the aviation industry is not an exception. However, the whole world is fighting against the virus outbreak in the best possible way and the recovery in China is a ray of hope for everyone.
Normal life has almost resumed in China and businesses are also starting to function though at a slow pace, which means that good days are not far. This example is a boost for all countries that the world will overcome this crisis soon. The aviation industry which has been growing in leaps and bounds is facing temporary turbulence due to the current situation. However, it is striving to deal with the challenges and preparing for a powerful comeback.
On March 22, when Emirates announced that they are suspending all its passenger services for three months from March 25, it was shocking news for everyone. Emirates has been a synonym of luxury for long and one of the most esteemed airlines in the Middle East. The Red, Green, White and Black tailfins symbolizing UAE have created the one-of-a-kind brand identity. Several other airlines also cancelled their operations in the following days and international travel has become a distant dream out of blue.
“These are extraordinary times,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO had commented on the situation. So, the aviation industry needs to put some extraordinary efforts to survive the situation. What are the measures it can take to face the challenges to reduce the impact of the outbreak on its growth? Let’s explore the important possibilities in detail.
How to respond to COVID-19 crisis
How the airline companies can respond to the COVID-19 crisis? There are certain things that they can do to retain their brand identity and prepare for a better tomorrow.
- Think long-term, act every day
As the airline industry cannot control the events that are happening every day as a result of the crisis, the best thing is to take decisions by focussing on your long-term goals. Consider the areas which are under your control, like the costs and communicating with the stakeholders. Things are changing day by day, so you have to be active and act every day. Conduct a risk assessment and implement the cost-cutting methods to face the economic impact.
- Care your people
Never forget your people in the crisis, because you are all in this together. Even when you are considering different options like remote working, salary reduction and even layoff as the last resort, value their opinion and ensure that everything is communicated with them in a proper way. Keep them up-to-date about the efforts of the organization to mitigate the risks of exposure to the virus at the workplace.
- Talk to your customers
There is no point in ignoring an overwhelming crisis, the most rational way is to face it courageously. So, talk to your customers as everyone can understand that it is not anyone’s fault. You can convince them that the suspension of operations was adhering to the government’s guidelines and as part of the safety measures to contain the virus outbreak before it becomes worse.
Keeping the temporary inconvenience caused by the cancellation of their travel aside, customers should realize that it is for a more important cause—ensuring everyone’s safety. At the same time, you should stay connected with them in this situation and give a refund for their losses for which you are responsible.
- Utilize the digital world
It is certain that the customers will have a lot of queries in light of sudden changes. So, all companies can make use of the digital platform to pass relevant information to the customers. For a time being, stop marketing your services and focus on sharing the important information along with addressing their concerns.
There should be a dedicated page on your website for the queries, you can give the popular FAQs and self-service forms. This is the time when your customer service will become crucial like never before. So, your business in the future will depend on how you served your customers during the crisis than how well you marketed your services.
Governments’ initiatives for supporting aviation industry
The governments are at the forefront of the battle against Coronavirus. Their prompt actions and decisions are helping businesses to mitigate the negative impact. As per the recent estimates by the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the global aviation industry contributes approximately 3.6 per cent to the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Considering the contribution of aviation to global economic growth, the governments of different countries have come forward with several relief packages. For instance, Emirates has played a major role in making Dubai an important international aviation hub and contributed to the economy of the UAE. Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed had announced that the government is committed to fully support Emirates Airlines and will inject fresh equity into the company to help it overcome the coronavirus crisis.
Likewise, the US has also announced $61 billion for its airline industry. Other countries may also come up with relief packages for the aviation industry to help it stay afloat in this situation. Additionally, the European Commission has suspended airport slot requirements from March 1 to 30 June 2020.
The airport slot requirements oblige airlines to use at least 80% of their take-off and landing slots in order to keep them the following year. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had also temporarily waiving minimum slot-use requirements at U.S. airports to help airlines that cancel flights due to the Coronavirus till May 2020.
A crisis is an event that tests our ability to cope up with difficulties and is a chance to become more powerful. The thriving aviation sector has outlived several challenges including the deadly SARS outbreak. This can be considered as a trial to remain alert for any crisis in the future and having efficient risk management approaches in place.
The current restrictions and travel bans are safety measures that are aimed at the public good. The history of crisis is always entwined with the history of survival. So, it is time to pen history with an inspiring and exemplary survival story.