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Improving Aviation Industry Communications During Extreme Weather

Commercial airlines regularly face communication headwinds caused by disruptive weather, regardless of the season. Weather can mean delays, cancellations and a scramble to communicate alternative plans with employees and passengers. If not handled well, the fallout can mean a heavy hit on consumer trust and significant amounts of lost revenue.

With the number and frequency of extreme weather events on the rise, the aviation industry needs to be prepared to react quickly to counter any disruption.

When Extreme Weather "Snowballs”

Just a few weeks ago, extreme weather triggered “internal technology failures” at Southwest Airlines, causing flights to be grounded. While all U.S. carriers were initially affected, Southwest took much longer than its competitors to get back up and running.

The ensuing meltdown could cost the airline up to $825M in lost revenue, customer compensation, and operating costs such as overtime pay. Communication problems are being cited as a major issue — leaving stranded passengers with little information to help them make alternative plans.

“The problems at Southwest Airlines over the last several days go beyond weather,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.  “Many airlines fail to adequately communicate with consumers during flight cancellations. Consumers deserve strong protections.”

Alongside natural disasters and extreme weather events, technology issues have been rising over recent years with the number of cyber-related incidents trending upwards. And while cybercrime rose across industries by 31% between 2020 and 2021 according to Accenture, technology is affected by much more than malicious intent. Aging software and platforms are also taking their toll.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Southwest’s crew-assignment software is nearing its end of life. But it’s not an issue that is limited to a single carrier:

“Analysts and industry insiders say the airline industry is overdue for a massive technology overhaul that would take advantage of highly scalable cloud technologies and fully connect disparate sources of real-time data to better coordinate crews with aircraft. The airline sector has been among the slowest to adopt cloud-based and analytics technologies that could help solve complicated transportation network problems, those analysts say.”

The Right CEM Solution Can Help

When systems are down, people need to know what the risks to their safety are. They also need information that can help them mitigate upheaval to their plans, holidays, operations, and work schedules.

The right Critical Event Management (CEM) system helps businesses — including those in regulated sectors like aviation and travel — react quickly. CEM can keep employees, businesses, customers, partners and many others informed, by feeding verified, real-time information and updates to myriad endpoints, including email, social media, SMS, and digital displays.

An effective CEM platform helps organizations gather and disseminate information, and manage logistics, keeping operations moving from a centralized platform — all helping to maintain good customer (and employee) relations and trust.

CEM cannot prevent severe weather or other unexpected events from happening, but it can help aviation decision-makers prepare for them, and communicate quickly and effectively with all affected parties when things go awry.

Talk to us to find out more. As a global leader in CEM technology, we’d be happy to give you a demonstration of how BlackBerry® AtHoc® can help.

Ryan Burrus

About Ryan Burrus

Ryan Burrus is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry.