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Landing safely after a crisis

FlySafair

Crisis Comms

After a “one-in-a-million-chance” experience of two unrelated loss of cabin pressure incidents on FlySafair flights (in a single week and the same aircraft), passengers and the South African public were concerned and confused, spreading fear on social media. But a research-guided, coordinated effort between agency and client turned
a potential reputation nightmare into a positive news story, celebrating the training and professionalism of FlySafair’s pilots and crew, as well as their textbook implementation of world class safety procedures.

For all its ease and convenience, many people still find flying relatively stressful. So imagine the shock when those little oxygen masks drop down in front of you – the real life version of the safety instructions scenario most flyers tune straight out of. This was the situation faced by passengers on two FlySafair flights in January 2016, when the same aircraft experienced two unconnected incidents of gradual loss of pressure, leading to a controlled and safe, but unplanned descent.

In an age of social media and instant communication, a regrettable but routinely managed scenario can snowball, creating unnecessary fear and panic. As word from the now-safely-on-the-ground passengers began to spread, FlySafair and WE got to work – rolling out a crisis communications campaign based on honest and accurate information, while managing any misconceptions that may crop up about the airline’s safety credentials.

Ultimately, the campaign was so well received that the initial negative comments were far outweighed by positivity and support. And the tide of headlines swung firmly in our direction, with independent commentators and the media acknowledging that FlySafair’s response was “by the book”.

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