NBCNews.com Q&A: How Malaysia Airlines can salvage its brand The Seattle Times “They are a victim this time, so it is very different from a situation where they have no answers,” said Caroline Sapriel, managing director of CS&A, a company that…
This is different to most posts you will get from me. I’ll take it from a location based perspective, because I’m interested in 2 aspects.
One is, whether they were legally entitled to be in that airspace or not, 2 Ukrainian aircraft had been shot down over that airspace in the previous few days. I would not willingly fly on any aircraft going over a war zone, period. I accept that other airlines did the same and got lucky. I’d be interested to know if any other airlines are doing it now.
The second is, I am really interested in branding and how a brand recovers from disasters and these 2 incidents are potentially huge disasters. Most airlines run on very tight budgets these days. A large number have fallen by the wayside in recent years. Even if they did nothing wrong, they are tarnished. Not only will people shy away in general, but a lot of people, especially Asian people have a thing about numbers, European people also often say things come in 3’s. Obviously that’s not scientific, bu people want a scapegoat and there is a major brand in the firing line.
If an individual gets their name tarnished, there are lost of things they can do, lots of experts tat can help them, or they can simply escape from the limelight for an appropriate period of purgatory. Go do some good somewhere remote perhaps. But a big brand doesn’t have that luxury. Changing the CEO, sad but obvious is an option, because even if they ‘did nothing wrong’ boards and others expect a sacrificial goat. But this doesn’t appease hundreds of people who have lost a loved one, the insurance which company which will undoubtedly payout against or before a class action and passengers who will vote with their feet.
So what do they do? at one end of the scale, I see them slowly go broke and little appetite to fund them through what would be a long and difficult period from which they still might not recover, probably depends a lot on the support of their nationals. Another more probable option would be a sale/merger to another airline, as per the example of KLM.
So what would you do? It is the Malaysian national airline. It hasn’t to the best of our knowledge failed in any way legally, they are doing their best to cooperate, they are certainly as devastated as the rest of the world is. If you were going on a long trip next week and they were $100 cheaper than another airline that was globally trusted, for the same route. Which airline would you choose? How could they make you change your mind?