Crisis Communication Strategies of Ethiopian Airlines Group: A Case Study of Flight 302 Accident

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Addis Ababa University


Crisis communication is an integral aspect of crisis management that determines the success or failure of an organization. Therefore, an organization is required to have the ability to manage its crisis and effectively communicate with stakeholders. The main purpose of this particular study is to assess the crisis communication strategies employed by Ethiopian Airlines Group to manage its crisis after Flight 302 accident. Crisis communication is an integral aspect of crisis management in the airline industry. Therefore, crisis managers in the industry are required to effectively communicate in order to weather a crisis. The researcher employed Situational Crisis Communication(SCCT), Image Restoration and Renewal theories to analyze the crisis communication strategies employed by the airline after Flight 302 accident. Relevant literature was reviewed to describe crisis communication in the airline industry. Qualitative research method was used in this study with a case study research design since this research is about specific case in a specific company. An in-depth- interview and document analysis were used to collect data. The researcher selected 11 corporate communication practitioners and the manager of airline for an in-depth interview based on their involvement in the crisis in particular and corporate communication department in general. Of the total 11 interviewees, 4 interviewees are from the Social Media Team, 5 from the Media Relation Team, 1 from the Corporate Event Team and 1 manager. The researcher coded and categorized the chunk of primary and secondary data and analyzed the data in relation to the research questions to draw meaning. There are three major findings from this study. Firstly, the communication practitioners and manager of the airline do not work in collaboration with the executives of the airline. Secondly, corporate communication practitioners do not receive regular trainings on crisis communication and management. Thirdly, the airline used of mortification, bolstering and compensation strategies to respond to the crisis. Fourthly, the post- crisis phase emerged as an opportunity to the airline for organizational learning. Based on the findings, the researcher recommended that Ethiopian Airlines Group needs to improve its Corporate Communication management, real-time communication and provide comprehensive trainings to its corporate communication practitioners on crisis communication and management.