How Qantas dealt with the 48 hour fleet grounding crisis and the A380 mid-air engine failure

What a year this is turning out to be for Qantas! In June, the Chilean ashcloud crisis affected many of their flights for an extended period. For their stellar efforts in responding to the crisis, especially on social media, they were even one of the Top Nominees in the category for Customer Service (check out the case-study here) for this year’s SimpliFlying Awards for Social Media Excellence. Then almost out of the blue, disaster (at least for passengers and from a PR perspective) struck when, on October 29, following instructions from CEO Alan Joyce, Qantas announced that it was grounding all flights indefinitely, with employees not required to report to work.

Another crisis presents itself

Quite understandably, almost immediately, the interwebs exploded. While passengers vented their dismay and fury, it’s notable that even most employees were taken unawares that led to an initially wary and “slow” response from Qantas as customer inquiries flooded the official Twitter account. Tweets talking about and mentioning Qantas shot up. Very soon, “Qantas” and “Alan Joyce” were trending Worldwide, indicating tweets containing these keywords in excess of 1000 per minute. While the initial response from Qantas was decried as being too “mechanical and impersonal”, Virgin seized the opportunity to jump in and offer to rescue stranded Qantas passengers. Meanwhile, once more information came in, Qantas was able to effect a more concerted social media response and help customers.

How did Qantas ultimately fare? Check out our slide-deck to see a detailed analysis of how the crisis unfolded, how Qantas responded and what they eventually did to enable service recovery, along with lessons they might want to take away from this crisis.

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And yet another!

Hardly had they managed to start rolling out their service recovery efforts than another blow struck. Exactly a year to the date (November 4) of last year’s A380 engine blowup over Singapore, a different Qantas A380 headed to London from Singapore experienced an engine failure in mid-air and had to be diverted to Dubai. If the timing of the failure coupled with the previous few days’ wretched PR weren’t enough, this particular flight happened to have Stephen Fry, the famous writer, actor and comedian on board. To top it all, Fry is one of the most popular Twitter celebs with a following of around 3.5 million! (To put it in context, @QantasAirways has about 66,000 followers.) What followed – the flight was diverted, an extended delay was expected, alternate flights were heavily booked, hotels were full and what’s more, Fry left his wallet on the plane –  had all the ingredients for another PR disaster for Qantas.

How did it turn out? Check out our slide-deck to know more!

How Qantas dealt with the 48-hour fleet grounding crisis and the A380 mid-air engine failure

 

What did you think of our analysis? Agree or disagree with something? Have any additional analysis/comments to add? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @simpliflying.




Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Former VP, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal was leading SimpliFlying's Research, Product Development, Marketing and Business Development from December 2010 to December 2017 from the headquarters in Singapore. He has spoken at airline conferences and delivered training workshops for senior aviation executives. He has also appeared on television interviews and been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying and respected industry outlets such as Airlinetrends, Tnooz, Airport World, Low Cost and Regional Airline Business Magazine and Loyalty360. In a previous role, he also conducted a workshop on social media at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore.
Shubhodeep Pal
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