Crisis communication management for an aircraft accident with global impact

Crisis communication management for an aircraft accident with global impact

Ethiopian Airlines is an established airline in Spain that operated daily flights connecting Madrid with Africa. On 10 March 2019, an accident occurred on flight ET 302 operated by the company, on the route between Addis Ababa and Nairobi, which was of great global significance due to its technical implications.

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Crisis communication management for an aircraft accident with global impact

What we’ve done

Interface Tourism Spain’s team was immediately activated to initiate the crisis protocol whose main objective was to meet the demands for information, protecting the company’s reputation and, in the medium and long term, minimising the reputational damage linked to the accident. The team reported on the progress of the investigation which showed that the origin of the accident was linked to a technical breakdown of the aircraft supplier, Boeing.

Our team suspended all communications on Spanish-language social networks, relevant to the local market, in order to take them to the “black site” and use them as a source of information on the news of the incident. Communication channels were established with the main media in Spain. The media liaison managed more than 50 calls on the day of the accident. The airport liaison managed an interview with internationally relevant media and news agencies.

In addition, the press was monitored in order to follow the Spanish media coverage of the accident, with the aim of catching up on erroneous or incomplete information, paving the way for the release of the investigation’s conclusions, which show Boeing’s responsibility in the accident.

Results: The company’s message was correctly conveyed and speculation was avoided: clarity in communications was key to achieving this.

  • In the following days, the flow of communications was maintained, ensuring that the crisis was properly closed, and verifying that the information published was accurate and in line with the data.
  • More than 5,000 news items were monitored in Spain throughout the management of the crisis.
  • Subsequently, the usual communication dynamics were resumed and the company’s reputation as the leading airline connecting Africa and Europe was restored, with content on routes, offers and inspiration at destination.
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