OPINION: The Big Question - Whose reputation is the Concorde disaster going to damage most?

The Air France Concorde crash just outside Paris which killed 113 people looks set to have serious long-term implications for the future of Concorde.

The Air France Concorde crash just outside Paris which killed 113

people looks set to have serious long-term implications for the future

of Concorde.


’It’s difficult to focus on the longer-term issue of reputation

management so soon after a disaster in which so many aviation colleagues

and passengers lost their lives. There’s no doubt that the fascination

surrounding Concorde intensified media and public scrutiny. Air France

and British Airways, as reputable international carriers, have both the

strength and resolve to recover from this tragedy. As an icon in air

travel Concorde’s reputation is now tarnished and its long-term future

will be determined only after detailed investigation. Most will surely

hope that it continues to fly for years to come - with its reputation


DAWN JAMES, Shandwick International

’Air France’s maintenance organisation will obviously be impacted by the

tragedy. That will be short term however as they can be seen to deal

with those responsible. In the longer term, regardless of the inquiry

outcome, Rolls-Royce and Concorde itself will probably take a battering

in my opinion. Those brands were unassailable in safety terms until this

month and now they will be connected with the worst air crash since

Lockerbie. As a result, even the paradigm that air travel is the safest

form of transport is challenged by what is turning out to be the

’Titanic’ of the air industry.’

NICK WRIGHT, Fishburn Hedges

’The media’s voracious appetite for more and more information on the

crash makes it even more important for the companies concerned to ensure

that their people know exactly what’s going on. It is vital that the

media should not be the first port of call for employees in this type of

incident. As such, communication people within the relevant

organisations should take the opportunity to focus their employees on

the distinction between fact and speculation, using real-time,

up-to-date tools such as intranets. This flow of information will result

in employees being in a position to harness what is long-standing pride

in Concorde, and answer questions on the tragedy with both conviction

and empathy.’

MIKE REGESTER, Regester Larkin

’When an accident like this happens two immediate actions are required

to minimise damage to corporate reputation: be seen to take the right

action and be heard to say the right words. The response from both Air

France and the German holiday company have been text book. A crisis

centre was set up for the grieving relatives; all assistance was given

to them to travel to the scene; news conferences were quickly organised

The key now will be for the organisations involved to keep on

communicating about the actions they are taking to help the relatives

and discover the cause. The airline industry has learnt some lessons

since the mishandling of communication by TWA after the TWA 800 crash

which led to new legislation for ’passenger rights’.’

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