EgyptAir turns to H&K for Flight 990 crisis support

WASHINGTON, DC: With last year’s crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 still fresh in most people’s minds - and international quarreling over its cause keeping it in the papers - the beleaguered airline has turned to Hill & Knowlton for crisis support.

WASHINGTON, DC: With last year’s crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 still fresh in most people’s minds - and international quarreling over its cause keeping it in the papers - the beleaguered airline has turned to Hill & Knowlton for crisis support.

WASHINGTON, DC: With last year’s crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 still

fresh in most people’s minds - and international quarreling over its

cause keeping it in the papers - the beleaguered airline has turned to

Hill & Knowlton for crisis support.



Controversy and mystery continue to swirl around the October 31 crash,

which claimed 217 lives. US authorities initially attributed it to the

suicide of co-pilot Gameel Batouti, but the Egyptian government has

vehemently - and very publicly - disagreed with this conclusion.



Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, said H&K

must quickly develop a plan to restore consumer confidence and employee

morale.



’It’s particularly important for a company like EgyptAir to deal with

speculation,’ he said. ’The investigation has implied a number of

things, and it still has months to go.’ The Washington Post has

estimated that the National Transportation Safety Board and FBI

investigations of the crash have cost dollars 17 million.



Smith compared the incident to an earthquake and said that the

aftershocks are not over: ’When the report is completed, it will bring

the story back to the front page of newspapers and onto TV.’



Smith also cited the importance of clearly delineating the key audiences

for the PR push. A very public incident such as the Flight 990 crash, he

explained, often results in client and agency disagreeing on the scope

of the crisis campaign, with the client usually wanting to appeal to a

wider audience.



Adding to the difficulty of H&K’s assignment are its political

overtones.



Egypt is one of the largest beneficiaries of US foreign aid, not to

mention a close ally.



Dr. Samir El Shanawany, EgyptAir’s North American general manager, did

not return calls for comment. While H&K declined to discuss the

assignment, its budget or the length of its contract with EgyptAir,

senior managing director Ed Belkin acknowledged that two high-powered

law firms have also been retained by the airline.



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