Crisis management helps organisations to identify potential, impending or actual crises and to respond to them in a co-ordinated and successful manner.
A crisis situation is the result of a major internal or external event which impacts upon the Organisation in the context of public safety, staff safety, service continuity, or Organisation reputation and related public confidence (e.g. the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001). In some cases, a crisis may be defined as an event that is not directly related to the Organisation but that is linked to its activities and that has substantial public interest e.g. failure of an external supplier. The high-level objective of crisis management actions is to identify potential, impending or actual crises and to respond to these in a co-ordinated and successful manner. Effective crisis management plans should ensure that a measured response is provided to staff, the media and to stakeholders, and where appropriate should ensure service continuity of air navigation services (ANS). Planning for contingency measures should be considered within the larger framework of crisis management.
A Corporate crisis management policy should be developed to define guiding principles and set up the policy framework for local crisis management plans. It is recommended that all local crisis management plans should be tested on a yearly basis. The test may range from trialling notification of key personnel to a full-scale practice. Moreover, it is further recommended that all existing and new local crisis management plans should be checked for consistency against the policy and guiding principles contained in the “Corporate Crisis Management Policy” document. Practices should be as realistic as practicable and initiated with as little warning as possible. However, care must also be taken that everyone understands that what is happening is an exercise which cannot be mistaken for a real-life event.
Consistency should be ensured between Contingency Plan(s) and Crisis Management Plan(s). Crisis Management Plans will assist ANSPs to mount an effective and timely management (non-operational) response to major incidents (such as the catastrophic loss or disruption of ANS services) and thus help protect the organisation's brand from financial and reputation damage. This is achieved through the management of external stakeholders (airlines) requirements. The Corporate Crisis management policy should address the following aspects:
Identification and notification of crises. Identification and notification of a crisis or potential crisis may originate from almost any source. However received, this early information must be forwarded without delay to the relevant department Crisis Management Focal Point whose role is to be defined.
Preliminary assessment of the crisis. On first receipt of information, the Crisis Management Focal Point should make a preliminary assessment of the crisis, and should assume responsibility for co-ordinating whatever information is available and for activating the initial stage of the relevant local crisis management plan.
Leadership during a crisis. Responsibilities and accountabilities must be defined and allocated without ambiguity in all crisis management plans and a clear chain of command (and line of communication) must be specified. In particular the role of the CEO, role of Directors/Heads of Department should be clearly mentioned. It is recommended to have a clearly established leadership during a Crisis. Where an event closely or directly involves an Organisation’s services (e.g. en route, terminal, tower etc), the director of that service should assume the role of Lead Director, with attendant responsibility for actual running of the local crisis management plan and for keeping the CEO apprised.