Hundreds of passengers faced delays and disruption on Tuesday evening when Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport lost power. Power was restored within a few hours but, whilst the power cut lasted, passengers could not check in and planes could not be unloaded. Luckily, due to the time of day, it was possible to divert some incoming flights to Terminal 1.
As usual in these sorts of situations, most of the complaints from passengers seem to focus on a lack of communication. This was partly due to the precise nature of the disruption, with the loss of display screens and other normal ways of communicating with passengers in the Terminal. However, some comments on social media make a more general point; saying that airport staff, whilst trying to be helpful, had simply not been given the information they required to answer the questions that people were asking.
Whilst not knowing how accurate this criticism is in this instance, it is certainly true that many organisations’ crisis communications plans focus on communicating with the media and external stakeholders and neglect communication with their own staff. Not only are staff an important stakeholder group in their own right, but many of them are also in direct contact with customers so are an important communications channel too. A little time taken in planning and rehearsing procedures for communicating with staff during an incident will pay big dividends.