One of the most daunting challenges facing airlines is the uncertainty of smooth daily operations. Airline disruptions can arise at any time, and each one is characteristically unique, requiring solutions on the fly. As ominous as flight delays and cancellations may be, the outcome can be smoother than anticipated and, at the same time, can be cost effective. To achieve the best results, airlines must prepare diligently for all potential scenarios. To reach a high state of readiness, it is important to take a structured approach, focusing on each stage of the irregular operations business cycle.
When faced with airline disruptions, the primary method of getting the airline back on track is to have a solid recovery strategy in place and ensure that all stakeholders are extremely familiar with the recovery plan and well trained to execute it.
Building a recovery strategy
When creating a solid recovery strategy, it is critical to perform an analysis of the current state of disruption management and address all aspects of the business cycle for continuous improvement. The analysis must also encompass every area of the company impacted by operational disruptions, including airport customer service and operations, flight operations, as well as customer care and sales channels, such as call centers and websites.
The outcome of the analysis should answer crucial questions about what matters to an airline:
- What does the airline do well, and what should be improved upon?
- How do the airline’s customers feel about the way they were treated during a disruption?
- Is the airline communicating effectively, both internally and externally?
- How are costs managed?
- Does the airline have the best organizational structure to readily and effectively manage irregular operations?
Answering these and other questions that best support an airline’s principles will enable it to implement the best possible disruption-management plan.
There are several strategic steps airlines can take to recover quickly; minimize impact to the airline, its customers and its employees; and get back on schedule to reduce the down-line domino effect that often occurs with irregular operations.