Malaysia Airlines Grapples With MH370 Crisis Management

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As the tragedy and mystery around the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and its 200+ passengers continues to grip the headlines, the airline itself is showing what it takes to handle a full-scale disaster of this proportion real-time, with the whole world watching.

A dedicated microsite has been posting a series of statementssince the plane was reported missing four days ago, including: “Malaysia Airlines’ primary focus at this point in time is to care for the families of the passengers and crew of MH370. This means providing them with timely information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals, medical and emotional support. All these costs are borne by Malaysia Airlines.”[more]

The MAS statement continued,

As of now, we have 115 family members in Kuala Lumpur and they are taken care of by 72 different caregivers. At least one caregiver is assigned to each family together with a Mandarin translator for the families from China. Equal amount of initial financial assistance are being given out to all families of passengers and crew over and above their basic needs. This amount is extended to families of all crew and passengers in Malaysia as well those from other nations. We regret and empathise with the families and we will do whatever we can to ease their burden. We are as anxious as the families to know the status of their loved ones.

Most notably, and understandably, MA has removed all promotional material from its social pages, with its Facebook and Twitter outposts focusing only on the flight as the news continues to break.

Malaysian blogger Unspun has become a repository for the latest information on MA’s PR efforts, and a supporter of their crisis response.

“Malaysia Airlines has so far has demonstrated its professionalism in handling this crisis-like situation. Their burden remains heavy, but they can at least take comfort that CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and his team know what they are doing.”

The blog believes the airline is doing a good job employing the “Triple R of crisis communications: Regret, Reason and Remedy.”

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya held a press conference Sunday, expressing sympathy for the friends and families of the victims and telling the world what they do and do not know yet, and what they are doing. 

Next, MA turned all its digital assets to unraveling the pieces of the puzzle while pointing on social to their Dark Site – a ‘dormant’ site activated in times of crisis for updates.

“Such coordination and activation within hours of the incident suggests a company that takes crisis management seriously and has drilled its employees to be able to carry out such tasks under the pressure of public scrutiny,” concludes Unspun.

Initial criticism over a delayed reaction to the Boeing 777-200ER losing contact with air controllers was fueled by Chinese media – as nearly two-thirds of the 239 people aboard flight MH370 are from China. 

“The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities,” stated a Global Times editorial, a newspaper with close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. “The initial response from Malaysia was not swift enough. There are loopholes in the work of Malaysia Airlines and security authorities. If it is due to a deadly mechanical breakdown or pilot error, then Malaysia Airlines should take the blame. If this is a terrorist attack, then the security check at the Kuala Lumpur airport and on the flight is questionable.”

The Chinese government has dispatched two warships, ten satellites and more than 50 marines to the South China Sea, along with an uninvited 13-member delegation to advise search and rescue efforts from Kuala Lumpur.

The last radio transmission from the cockpit of missing MA flight 370 was, ‘Alright, good night’ as the plane switched from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace.

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