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When a plane crashes — it doesn’t matter whose plane it is — the entire airline industry is affected and the entire industry responds. One of the first things airlines do is set to work calming people’s fears.
“So, for example, if a passenger has a question about the type of aircraft being used on his or her flight, call-center employees usually are briefed on how to answer those questions,” says Madhu Unnikrishnan, an airline-industry correspondent for Aviation Week.
Unnikrishnan says other aspects of business as usual are also put on hold.
“They will suspend events, promotional and marketing events for example,” he says. “And airlines typically withdraw ads from newspapers and television.”
Tragedies bring about cooperation in other areas, says Richard Aboulafia, an airline analysis with the Teal Group.
“I think the most important thing they think about is how to engage with regulatory officials in a positive way,” he says.
In the wake of the Germanwings crash, several carriers, including Norwegian Air and Air Canada have already announced rules changes requiring two pilots to remain in the cockpit at all times. And it’s likely the changes won’t end there.
“I’d be surprised if their weren’t some kind of changes that resulted from this,” says Aboulafia, “because you’ve got a series a of incidents, that really point to the impact of human malice in the cockpit.”
Eventually, airlines will return to what they do best: compete for business. One thing you will never see them compete on, says Aboulafia, is safety.
That’s because most carriers fly the same planes, and they have no interest in raising concerns about a competitors’ pilots or equipment.
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