In 2010, following a mid-air engine failure, Qantas didn’t hesitate to ground its entire Airbus A380 fleet.
When asked how long the planes would be grounded CEO, Alan Joyce, replied, “As long as it takes…we are being very cautious until we know exactly what caused this.”
Known as the world’s safest airline, and consistently ranked in the top ten of Australia’s most trusted brands, Qantas stayed true to its commitment to make safety the airline’s number one priority.
This week it has been hard to escape coverage of the second tragic Boeing 737 Max 8 disaster to occur in less than five months.
As the manufacturer, Boeing, is at the centre of the disaster, but a snowball is gaining speed and collecting airlines in the reputational fallout from these disasters as the trust of flyers around the globe is tested.
The story can be told by taking a look at the share price of Boeing and others in the aviation sector. Many of the airlines that were slow to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have taken a financial hit.
With the US particularly slow to declare a ban on the aircraft taking to the skies, customers of US-based airlines are now clearly questioning the trust they have in these carriers; who appear to be putting profits ahead of the safety of their customers and their own staff.
Imagine the sense of anxiety felt by the passengers on one of the flights President Trump referred to in his announcement on Wednesday that, “Any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and thereafter be grounded until further notice.”
The investigation into these disasters will take many months to determine the cause of the crashes, but the reputational impact could last even longer for those airlines who have lost customer trust by failing to communicate and act in a timely manner.
Saying sorry and offering sympathy in a true crisis isn’t enough. Brands must be prepared to take action and immediately demonstrate that they operate in line with their mission statements, if they are to retain the respect and trust of their customers.