Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cebu Pacific's PR disaster---a classic case in Issues Management

The chaos brought about by the stoppage of airport operations caused by a downed Cebu Pacific plane on one part of the runway is a classic case of mishandled communications. Evidently, Cebu Pacific failed to effectively manage the situation. The tragedy could have been turned into an opportunity. Yet, Cebu Pac personnel and its Communications team failed to act in time to avert a PR disaster.

Yesterday, everything went awry---airport officials cursing the airline for Cebu Pacific's failure to drag its airplane away from the runway, irate travelers up in arms over a succession of glitches in the airport system and even Atenean kids complaining about the inability of Cebu Pac airline crews to act decisively during the tensed situation---these incidents were amplified over radio and television so much that it practically downed whatever apologies Lance Gokongwei did in a press conference called by the company in that morning.

What is clear---Cebu Pacific does not have a crisis contingency plan, period. Analyze these incidents and you"ll conclude that these are mismanaged communications. Had Cebu Pac centralized all operations, including communications, these complaints would not have reached a certain crescendo. It seems that the airline lets it all hang loose, proof that it does not have a containment plan.

Online observers were led to a conclusion never to arrange a trip at Cebu Pac, for obvious reasons. Why would you risk your life booking a flight with them when they panic in times of distress? They probably have the best rates in the industry but if they lack skills in managing crises, then, how comfortable would you feel riding in their airplanes?

Cebu Pacific should review its protocols particularly on crisis management.