Airlines attempt to win back consumer trust after holiday delays

NEW YORK: Comair's three-person communications team struggled last week to fight back against a surge of bad press following a computer meltdown that left more than 30,000 passengers stranded over the holiday weekend.

NEW YORK: Comair's three-person communications team struggled last week to fight back against a surge of bad press following a computer meltdown that left more than 30,000 passengers stranded over the holiday weekend.

Nick Miller, manager of PR and communications, said his team was reaching out to the most widely read dailies, newswires, and broadcast outlets in an effort to shore up public confidence in a small carrier that was under attack from all sides - including an investigation by the US Department of Transportation.

The message, however, was neither one of apology nor explanation.

"We're taking care of our customers and getting the airline up and running again," he said. "That's the message we have to get out."

"Obviously we've had a lot of requests to talk about reputation management and what this means for Comair, but as long as we take care of our customers, everything will work out in the end," Miller explained.

Comair was not the only airline struggling with bad press from holiday weekend disruptions. The bankrupt US Airways, which experienced an abnormally high number of absent employees due to a suspected union "sick-out," also struggled to make its voice heard.

Spokeswoman Amy Kudwa would reveal only that the airline was experiencing "a lot of press calls" and was "trying to get through the backlog." But multiple news releases from US Airways revealed that it, too, was focusing its message on returning normal service to its inconvenienced customers.

"US Airways' focus remains on returning our operations to normal and providing our customers with the service they expect and deserve," read a statement released on Monday.

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