Airport Crisis Management Approach: Oman Airports Management Company
Crises are inevitable in organizations; hence, circumstances tend to be dynamic, unpredictable, and volatile in the contemporary business environment. Companies need practical crisis management approaches to help mitigate the impact of inevitable crises. Crisis management embodies the holistic process of predicting, planning, and responding to risks and challenges. The airport management approach embraced a comprehensive framework through which stakeholders understood the principles of predicting, preparing for the crisis, responding to the situation, and conducting the post-action assessment. The occurrence of incidents and the implementation of the interrelated crucial components of crisis management informs the sequence that airports have used in addressing the crisis.
The airport crisis management approach stems from the objectives of addressing incident controls. The rising air traffic, high customer demand, heightened security threats, and pandemics pose complex challenges for the airport. Research outlines that effective crisis management involves the effort of companies to establish and share accurate and timely information regarding the crisis (Leta & Chan, 2021). Crisis communication is critical in enhancing decision-making during a significant incident. According to Hedskog (2017), airports must find mechanisms that will help integrate information systems, equip employees and other stakeholders with timely communication and help implement tools that visualize the crisis data. Thus, effective command and control is a pathway for communication that helps offer a robust crisis management approach. Organizations utilize crisis communication as part of the planning and response initiative in informing relevant stakeholders about the emerging distance in the company. The crisis communication process follows the company’s steps to address the situation. It also involves the framework that the company is implementing to prevent the occurrence of the situation.
Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC) is a public company that manages the operations of Muscat International Airport, Salalah Airport, and other future airports. The company monitors the infrastructure of the airports, such as cargo buildings, terminal buildings, car parking, and aprons, among other critical installations. Therefore, the company manages the airport assets, infrastructure, and facilities by developing maintenance plans, aerodrome certification, and compliance with the regulations. Emergency planning, crisis management, and corporate communication fall under OAMC’s control (Oman Airports Annual Report, 2020). During the COVID 19 pandemic, OAMC faced an unprecedented crisis that forced it to take precautional measures. The company activated its crisis management committee following preparedness, planning, and emergency response. The company supervised Muscat International Airport to enforce emergency preparedness. It recommended drills and emergency exercises as part of the predicting and preparedness to improve the readiness of airports in dealing with the crisis that COVID-19 created. Therefore, the multistakeholder initiatives conducted drills that simulated the procedures the personnel needed to follow. The Oman Airports collaborated with the Royal Oman Police, Civil Aviation Authority, Ambulance Authority, and Civil Defence to implement the highest emergency preparedness standards and COVID-19 crisis management.
1.2 Statement of the problem
OAMC faced challenges in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. The company did not have contingency planning to predict the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis, which impeded its response to the public health scare, cessation of operation, and grounding of aircraft in Muscat International Airports and other airports it manages. The research examines the recovery responses that OAMC had in addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and the effectiveness of its preparedness in responding more effectively to the pandemic. Although OAMC utilized the best practices evident in the Aerodrome Emergency Plan, the emergency preparedness and response did not account for different possible events that would ensure the airports return to normal operations in the shortest times possible. The phenomenological inquiry in this research helps in providing practical reasons for the strategies that OAMC should have utilized in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need to examine different factors that impede the recovery process by assessing the preparedness and response efforts to address the unpredictable occurrence. For this reason, the study analyses the direct actions that OAMC used to evaluate, predict, evaluate, respond, and mitigate the crisis events.
1.3 Research Significance
The significance of the study is twofold. The study will make recommendations to help OAMC inform its crisis management policies where it integrates diverse efforts towards preparedness and an effective recovery plan. For this reason, the study will shape the policy framework on crisis management and the recovery process. The study’s findings will help the management of OAMC respond to the basic tenet of crisis communication, emergency preparedness, and effective recovery processes. The study demonstrates the best practices in the industry that can help OAMC identify crisis mitigation risks and engage frameworks that involve contingency planning and emergency preparedness. Similarly, the study contributes to the existing body of knowledge. The findings will add value to the eff recovery processes, allowing for coordination among different stakeholders in the emergency response. It will contribute to the existing frameworks of crisis communication and management. The study’s findings will underscore the need for airports in Oman to develop a multistakeholder approach for an effective crisis management strategy.
1.4 Research Objectives
The study will examine the Airport Crisis Management approaches focusing on OAMC. The study will seek to achieve the following objectives.
- Identify crisis management approaches of OAMC.
- Assess the business model of airports under OAMC.
- Evaluate airport management structures and determine the degree of agility and the impact on recovery plans’ success.
- Suggest strategies to enhance the current situation.
1.5 RESEARCH questions/hypotheses
The research question helps understand the factors that affected the implementation of crisis management. Therefore, the following research questions helped in guiding the study.
- What are the crisis management measures done to contain Covid-19?
- What are the current recovery strategies for Airports under OAMC?
- What are the factors affecting the success of the recovery plans?
The research will test the following research hypothesis:
- Effective crisis management has a significant correlation to emergency preparedness.
- Airports’ recovery plans had a significant relationship with the crisis management approach that OAMC used.
2.1 Stakeholders and Business Model of Airports
2.1.1 Airport Stakeholders
Airports rely on diverse stakeholders to fulfill their business objectives. Research indicates that Airports play a significant role in regional and global business. As a result, they engage different stakeholders to help them provide access to secure, safe, rapid, and affordable air transportation (Klophaus & Fichert, 2019). The main stakeholders include airlines, the police, the staff, suppliers, and different service providers, who collaborate to offer seamless services to customers in air travel. Chutiphongdech (2021) portends that airports also have shareholders, government, customers, and regulators who play significant roles as stakeholders. The interests and consideration of stakeholders should form the basis of considerations when evaluating the performance of airports. For example, airports in the U.S and Europe are public institutions, thereby barred from generating financial profits. The airports’ performance and profitability depend on the interest of all stakeholders.
Airports, by nature, are complex facilities that must engage different stakeholders who manifest various interests. Most airport stakeholders are external or internal and may encompass employees, airlines, passengers, local communities, government agencies, unions, media, and suppliers (Suikat et al., 2020). It is the responsibility of the stakeholders to develop engagement programs that maintain the efficient operations of the airports. Frontload coordination of the airports and stakeholders improves the airport’s overall efficiency. The best practices involve allowing the stakeholders’ input to foster a sense of trust by ensuring that everyone contributes to the business.
The nature of airport terminal stakeholders plays a significant role in the success of stakeholders’ engagement. Research indicates that airport stakeholders’ perspective is a primary factor in designing the complex network of relationships among the different parties involved in the airplane’s day-day operations (Ninan, Mahalingam, and Clegg, 2019). The primary stakeholders in airports include the Civil Aviation Authorities of respective countries, which play a regulatory function. Various ministries in countries contribute to the management and operations of various airports and ensure that the service delivery is effective. Thus, stakeholders’ engagement ensures that all the processes run smoothly to meet the expectations.
2.1.2 Business Model
The concept of business models in airports is not consensual in the existing literature. The diversity of business approaches depicts the ability of different airports to use alternative business models. Klophaus and Fichert (2019) outline that most airports in Europe utilize a market positioning and investment model that describes the operations and objectives to satisfy the customers’ needs. Literature on airport business models relies on applied theories depending on whether the airport is a primary hub, low-cost airport, or cargo airport. Chutiphongdech (2021) examined the business models that three airports used, detailing revenue factors. The theory of business models in airports constructs the relationship between elements to promote the principle of efficiency in service delivery.
Moreover, the airports offer state-of-the-art infrastructure alongside a high standard of security and safety measures. Research further indicates that the collaboration of security, interconnectivity, affordable airlines, and short flight duration is a business model that aims to create a competitive edge (Crisis Control, 2021). Therefore, there is less congestion at the airport, with customers reporting an overall exceptional experience. In management science, business models stem from the dimension of the new economy that emerged as the core logic for creating value in the business (Klophaus & Fichert, 2019). Airports’ productivity and performance depend on business management, which considers business excellence and quality management aspects. The interlocking elements in a business model capture the objectives for airport management focus on creating and delivering value. The models underpin the importance of the customer in the airport business.
Most airports operate based on providing services to airlines. According to Díaz Olariaga (2019), airports compete to attract and retain customers. Therefore, these airports build connections to enhance business between different parts of the world. International airports in the Middle East and Europe adopted the hub and spoke models to achieve economies of scale (Zhalechian, Torabi, and Mohammadi, 2018). As a result, these airports build their business models on the principle that they are essential international transport centers. The foundation of the hub-and-spoke model demonstrates a significant advantage for airports to improve network connectivity. The airports attracted airlines with fewer routes to save on operating costs. During the COVID 19 pandemic, most airports utilized the point-to-point model to improve operational efficiency and correct the challenges inherent in the hub and spoke model.
Most international airports in the Middle East utilized a point-to-point approach during the COVID 19 epidemic, allowing passengers to travel directly to different locations. The point-to-point model recognizes that airports are central hubs with cost-saving initiatives that reduce operations (Curran, 2020). The COVID 19 pandemic forced airports to accommodate the expectation of the customers and address the fear of the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic. Therefore, these airports allowed flights to operate on marginal point-to-point routes. The goal was to scale their operations, reduce the cost of doing business, and clear airlines that would operate directly from the central hub to the other destinations (Criss Control, 2022). The integration between different airlines allows the airports to provide excellent connectivity to further destinations.
The effort in the business model is to build more vital collaboration with other stakeholders. Existing literature indicates that most airports aim at building stronger relations with different markets (Suikat et al., 2020). Thus, cooperation plays a positive role in strengthening inbound and outbound tourism and achieving high passenger flow. For this reason, Times News Service (2021) outlines the role of the point-to-point model, which sought to prevent the airports from clearing airlines that were flying with empty seats. Therefore, the airports created a connection network to ensure that they still operated with profitability.
2.2 Airport Management
Major international airports are characteristics of complex operations. These airports have multiple terminals and runaways, so they need a comprehensive management approach. Air traffic control uses the control tower to manage aircraft movement on the ground and airborne. There is the use of technology in assisting t in the management of airports (Díaz Olariaga, 2019). Airport managers play a significant role in managing operations in different departments. The responsibility for running particular departments allows them to work closely with other state agencies to ensure that the airports uphold the rules and regulations. According to Ding et al. (2022), the airport operations management helps the chief executive officers supervise and coordinate the day-to-day airside and landside operations. Communication between the Federal Aviation Administration rules and other stakeholders emerges as an essential factor in the management of airports.
Most airports’ management structure comprises the chief executive offer, chief operating officer, chief financial offer, and head of contract and procurement. The airports’ management utilizes multisectoral approaches to develop strategies for business operations. The airports rely on consistent communication through different departments regarding the safety and operation processes. The leadership competencies of the chief executive officers alongside the board of management and executive managers propose the dimensions of airport management (Young & Wells, 2019). The management structure reflects the principle that most airports worldwide are publicly owned entities. Therefore, the composition of the management will mirror other government agencies to ensure that there is efficiency and smooth operations.
2.3 Crisis Management
The business environment in the 21st contrary requires a permanent crisis management approach. Research indicates that several managers have sought to address the crisis using the best practices (Vašíčková, 2019). The foundation of crisis management revolves around a set of approaches, standards, methods, and measures that proactively helps in mitigating the impacts of a crisis. During the COVID 19 pandemic, the reorientation approach depicted how organizations conducted crisis management. It showed how organizations prepared systems to control the pandemic’s unpredictability (Dobrowolski, 2020). Empirical evidence exists to underscore how crisis management failed in several organizations during the pandemics. The public health crisis exposed companies to different weaknesses, breaking down their supply chain networks, preventing business operations, and creating a loss of reputation.
Over the years, literature has shown that the nature of crisis management determines the multifaceted responses (Dobrowolski, 2020). The collective perspective on the premise of crisis management shows consensus among scholars that an organizational crisis has a high impact on the continuity of the operations and thus requires a preparedness to thwart the gravity of the effects. Therefore, crisis management is the application of diverse strategies that seek to help an organization deal with an emerging event. Although a crisis can occur due to unpredictable events, the consequences can potentially impact the organization’s operations. A crisis invariably requires quick decisions to mitigate the damage to the organization.
Crisis management goals formulate the framework an organization can use to minimize the damages. Almufarji and Husin (2019) indicate that crisis management encompasses diverse stages: prediction, planning, response, and mitigation. The ideal practices for responding to crises include establishing a crisis management plan that ensures that organizations are prepared for unanticipated events. Besides, the type of crisis management activities varies depending on the organization. Crisis management has four phases: preparedness, planning, response, and recovery. Covid 19 crisis presented a dynamic situation that had long-term implementations. As a result, effective governance requires the board to set aside time to consider each crisis and develop implementation readiness measures.
Crisis management literature reveals the effort to achieve resilience in a changing society. Understanding organizational resilience revealed a comprehensive process to understand the nature of the crisis and implement mitigation factors before the crisis happens (Almufarji & Husin, 2022). Crisis management is, therefore, a process that describes features of a proactive model for highlighting recovery processes (Vašíčková, 2019). For this reason, the efficacy of crisis management is to implement effective crisis communication, engage in contingency plans and adopt organizational behaviors and beliefs that focus on predicting the proneness of the disaster. Four phases of crisis management help the organization focus on long-term goals and missions in responding to the emerging crisis and safeguarding the company’s physical health, operational capacity, and financial performance.
Preparedness is a crisis management state that informs the process of planning for the crisis. In most cases, the phase integrates three factors that allow the organization to periodically review the policies that predict the response to the crisis. The organization also plans and creates a crisis communication plan. According to Akhshik and Beglou (2022), crisis preparedness portends a critical element in crisis management. Organizations need to decide on the COVID 19 crisis. These decisions require planning and preparedness. Therefore, the systematic review on the preparedness in crisis management captures the model that airports use to engage stakeholders through crisis communications, staff training in implementing the crisis management, and preparation of different stakeholders. The majority of studies focused on the financial and economic impact of the crisis, although crises like COVID had health-related implications.
Preparedness involves implementing response initiatives that monitor early warning signs. A case study from Oman indicated that the company monitored hazards after World Health Organization found the first case of COVID 19 in Wuhan (Olimat, 2022). The relationship between activating early warning signs and implementing early preparedness enhances modern organizations’ crisis management process (Al-Zaabi & Al-Zadjali, 2022). Since World Health Organization published weekly operational updates on COVID 19 since the early pandemic, this gave the organization the edge for preparing and developing a strategic preparedness and response plan. Airports engaged in efforts that increased their capacity to strengthen their strategies and mitigate the COVID 19 pandemic.
Preparedness is a cycle of planning. Organizations organize their resources, train their staff, and conduct drills for corrective actions. Preparedness allows airports to conduct drills. Thus, the human resources train on how to deal with emergencies as part of their preparedness. Also, airports invest in human resources to improve their readiness to deal with COVID 19 situations when they occur. These drills simulate diverse recovery processes that personnel followed in dealing with the pandemic. Therefore, the airports collaborated with other stakeholders such as the police, Civil Aviation Authority, and ambulance authority to implement high emergency preparedness standards. The implementation of the emergency preparedness was within the periodic programs that would help airports maintain their readiness in dealing with COVID 19 crisis following the civil aviation regulations. The emergence drill was a preparedness approach that depicted the integrated effort between stakeholders to determine their level o preparedness in addressing the impacts of the crises.
The crisis management use preparedness depends on the organization’s effectiveness in implementing the Mitroff crisis management model. Most airports utilized the model as a general framework that helped them understand the crisis and implement crisis response. The contingency plan for handling the crisis rested on the communication processes and the aviation rules and regulations (Klauser & Pauschinger, 2020). As a result, the Mintroff crisis management technique enabled airports to identify early warning signals and determine how much effort it would take to address the problem. Hence, different airports initiated an action plan and kept in constant touch to develop ways to respond and mitigate the situation (Leta & Chan, 2021). Overall, the elements of preparedness emphasized the need for a crisis management lifecycle that would assist in the development of an effective response mechanism.
2.3.2 Response Phase
The response phase is a crisis management model that helps organizations reduce the threat’s impact. Research shows that the response stage credences the airports’ ability to initiate communication frameworks to detect the crisis (Polater, 2018). The internal and external stakeholders utilize manual and automated mechanisms to respond to the situation. While existing literature maintains how crisis response aligns with emergence services, the objective is to reduce the diverse impacts (Oloruntoba, Sridharan, and Davison, 2018). During the COVID 19 pandemic, the response utilized an action plan that addressed the short- and medium-term impacts that hinged on preventing the spread of the pandemic. The actions depicted the readiness of stakeholders to manage the litigation processes.
Response strategies focus on achieving short-term and immediate needs. Lian (2020) introduces a crisis relief framework with response actions extending to the recovery process. The airport’s crisis management process allows stakeholders to be involved in responding to the mitigation of the crisis. In some cases, airports outsourced external organizations to monitor early warning systems and communicate the steps to the citizens, the media, and public agencies. Stakeholders begin gathering valuable data in the initial assessment of an incident. Research indicates that focusing on the type of incident allows the airports to collect information for further investigations (Fakhruddin, Blanchard, and Ragupathy, 2020). To initiate the response phase, stakeholders utilize multiple sources such as crowdsourcing and social media.
Data collection and information dissemination are the benchmarks for the response stage. The importance of communication is to ensure that all external and internal stakeholders, such as law enforcement agencies participate in understanding the overall process that the response takes. The critical of the incidence should be anchored on the coordination of the crisis emergency team. As a result, the airport’s management can assess the crisis level, evaluate the situation, and determine the response plans (Oloruntoba, Sridharan, and Davison, 2018). However, Polater (2018) reiterates a different perspective by indicating that appropriate responses are the basis for determining the success of the response by executing, adapting, and coordinating processes and procedures for the r crisis response. The timely communication should occur in a precise and accurate manner allowing the stakeholders to manage the crisis and prevent the impact of the crisis.
Leadership plays a strategic role in crisis communication. The response phase involves coordination. According to Bhaduri (2019), the effectiveness of any communication process depends on stakeholders’ ability to understand the nature of the crisis. Crisis communication utilizes techniques that inform relevant stakeholders of the emerging crisis. The communication follows necessary steps that allow airports to correct the situations and employs diverse frameworks to prevent the future occurrence of the communication. The best practices in crisis management include the formulation of several responses. Airports build on the Image Restoration Theory of crisis communication to map the corrective action and reduce the negative impact of the crisis (Coombs & Laufer, 2018). Therefore, maintaining the reputation and public perception portends the airports’ stability and locus in addressing emerging crises. Therefore, most airports developed a crisis response team that updated public members on the progress of the situation and the efforts to control the damages of the crisis.
The response phase in crisis management is a process that airports use to minimize anxiety among stakeholders and encourage the recovery process. All the external and internal stakeholders participated during the response phase. Studies have shown that crisis communication provides a sense of duty and maintains the trust in the emergency response, responders, and other stakeholders (Oloruntoba, Sridharan, and Davison, 2018). The particular attention during the response stage was to address the information circulating during the crisis process. The response phase outlines the need for the organization to maintain logs of crisis, establish the reporting instruction, and layout the mechanism to terminate the crisis. Bhaduri (2019) posits that several best practices that depict the effective crisis management and communication framework reveal the importance of the response stage in addressing a crisis. The framework allows the airport organizations to describe the risks and other process perspectives. These management policies guide the action plan in the continuous assessment of the crisis. The literature provides different instances where airports included their response strategies to evaluate the risks that COVID 19 created and plan for an emerging crisis.
The industry’s best practices have shown that organizations rely on the media to communicate response initiatives. During the early days of the COVID 19 pandemic, the airports in different parts of the world communicated through various media as part of the response initiative. Most airports issued press releases, memos, video messages, and social media updates to enhance response strategies (Polater, 2018). Throughout the COVID 19 crisis, airports published significant press releases as part of the effort to communicate with the public regarding the development of the situation. The communication aimed to mention the intervention strategies and initiatives the airports had taken to respond to the crisis and reduce the organizational., public health, and financial damages.
2.3.3 Recovery Phase
The recovery phase in any crisis involves activities that organizations implement to continue beyond the crisis period. The goal of the recovery phase is to restore critical operations and manage the stabilization process. According to Polater (2018), companies embrace the activities of the recovery phase to mitigate the crisis and prepare for the next crisis. The framework of the crisis management cycle is crucial in ensuring that airports morph into their strategies factors for the crisis recovery. The core activity for the airports in the recovery phase hinges on rebuilding learning models to evaluate the possibility of the organizational environment. Airports established strategic plans and created a budget for the recovery. Literature indicates that most airports worldwide utilized a common approach that involved establishing a working group to ensure that stakeholders jointly manage the recovery process (Polater, 2018). Therefore, airports executed the recovery phase during and after the initial response to the crisis. The management of the airports created recovery plans that saw the coordination of different stakeholders in ensuring that the operations in airports returned to normalcy. The collection, analysis, and evaluation of crisis evidence formulate the pathway organizations develop to achieve total recovery.
Recovery is the foundation of dealing with a crisis. Bhaduri (2019) proposes the five elements that the recovery phase includes in the crisis management phase. The forces encompass organizational culture, resilience, and the use of technology. In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, the primary recovery strategy that cuts across different airports involves establishing an airside safety system. The approach gave these airports the ability to enhance efficiency, minimize the impact of COVID 19 spread, and restore the passenger flow in different airlines. The principle that guides crisis management depicts the need for organizations to create transition plans that address the organizational weakness during the crisis.
The decision framework is critical in making long-term decisions and identifying new opportunities for disinvestment and investment. Airports worked alongside regulatory agencies in their countries, such as Civil Aviation Authorities and Federal Aviation Council, to launch the standard practice of commercial operations (Polater, 2018). The aviation public health safety protocol helped airports coordinate their operations in the airports, with some airlines focusing on repatriating citizens to their home countries. The recovery process’s stakeholder engagement and communication involvements are emphasized using emergency operations. The comprehensive recovery process considers the collaboration of staff, facilities, processes, and systems to enhance crisis management (Mantzana et al., 2020). The coordination efforts in the recovery process created a lasting impact on the airports and their business operations. Thus, airports utilized their competencies to renovate, revise and transform their business models.
The effectiveness of the crisis communication strategies reflects the success of the airport’s recovery process during the COVID 19 crisis. Most airports-maintained connectivity and continued communicating with the public through different media. Thus, the consistent update on the situation streamlined the crisis communication process. The airport management showed apathy to the public for suffering the impacts of the pandemic and facilitated distribution access. The foundation of Coombs’s strategic crisis communication strategy theory allowed airports to match the crisis recovery responses to the COVID 19 crisis responsibility (Coombs & Laufer, 2018). The tenets of the theory utilized the dimensions of crisis communication to prevent further events that could damage the reputation of various airports. The recovery process acknowledges the evaluation of the crisis that allowed the airports to predict the reputational threat of COVID 19 pandemics and the responsibility of stakeholders in mitigating the crisis. Research provides empirical evidence that guides the decisions on the action plan. The theory identifies facets of the crisis that determines post-crisis information.
The recovery phase portends the return to normal operations. Research has shown that addressing the crisis and its aftermath requires a recovery plan (Lian, 2020). The recovery process focused on developing initiatives to facilitate recovery during the COVID 19 crisis, identifying the audience, conducting a situation analysis, and developing a compelling message. The process determines the opportunities that would yield a practical impact on addressing the crisis. Recovery after a crisis depends on the foundation of crisis communications. Therefore, managers of various airports sought their mechanisms to ensure that the business operations resume normal business operations. Successful crisis management focuses on restoring the long-term reputation. The primary goal for the airports was to resume the normal operations of activities while building confidence among the stakeholders in trusting the airports. During the initial phase of the COVID 19 crisis, airports in the Middle East engaged in clearing airlines that facilitated humanitarian flights. The Dubai Airports coordinated efforts to transport COVID 19 vaccines and other preventive protection equipment worldwide. Airports’ recovery processes gave different entities to work with different stakeholders to protect the world from the spread of the pandemic (Mantzana et al., 2020). Thus, efforts that recognized the crisis in the aviation industry needed a multisectoral approach to developing and implementing the recovery process.
2.3.4 Mitigation Phase
The mitigation phase implements the recommendations and lessons learned from the recovery phases. Any airport or organization that has created an effective restoration should implement the countermeasures for normal operations. Research illustrates that the outcomes of the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic require implementing the response actions in the suitable mitigations efforts (Polater, 2018). In comparison, mitigation operates on the pedestal of creating responsibilities and times lines in achieving agility. Any crisis management process leaves certain discrepancies. According to Lian (2020), the airports identified the actual resilient objectives to address the future crisis. Therefore, the European model approached crisis management by aligning the structural and organizational changes and adopting non-structural measures to mitigate the crisis. Some non-structural measures include a communication process with the stakeholders to develop plans, organize and equip the organizations, train the staff and implement decisions.
The strategic theory of crisis communication reveals that the mitigation phase builds on restoration principles to reduce the risk factors of COVID 19. Rehabilitation and reconstruction began immediately after the airports shut down their operations. The pre-existing strategies and policies facilitated institutional responsibilities for possible future actions, and public participation Lian (2020) elaborates on the need to strengthen public awareness and heighten public engagement to implement mitigation measures. Furthermore, Coombs and Laufer (2018) provide a framework that airport managers can use in responding to and mitigating the crisis. Best practices showed that managers made significantly informed and strategic decisions that addressed the weakness in the recovery strategy and developed post-crisis response strategies. As a result, these airports-maintained consistencies in crisis response strategies. The principle of mitigation strategies is to develop sustainability and resilience and implement approaches that strengthen the organization’s capacity to address future crises.
Crisis mitigation in the Middle East airports risks mitigation plans. Muscat International Airports and other major airports in the region created a business continuity plan that helped determine the airports’ survival even after the crisis (Fakhruddin, Blanchard, and Ragupathy, 2020). Different risk management plans ensured stakeholder involvement in the recovery and post-crisis management. The airports worked with the government agencies to support airlines with disruptions in their schedules. The collaboration was a vital tool in increasing the awareness of the airport on the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and the mitigation process that sought to increase the volume of inbound and outbound tourism (Mantzana et al., 2020). The risk management plan added value to the crisis management designing route development scheme. Airports in Europe and America worked jointly with the intergovernmental agencies to lay strategies that strengthened the broader scope of security implementation and enforced the public health protocols after the pandemic. The safety reputation in airports was an entity that ensured that the risk mitigation plans to facilitate efficient business operations. The airport engaged with the government through an entity to reveal the processes of crisis mitigation and enhance the recovery strategies in harmonizing traffic rights and landing approvals.
COVID 19 pandemic halted operations at several airports worldwide, bringing together different stakeholders to mitigate the challenges. The safety and health of the staff and passengers forced the airport staff to collaborate to ensure that it communicated its response and recovery strategies in good time. Stakeholders in the crisis management involved airport operations directors, managers, officers, and staff who developed an emergency response team. The airport public affairs team, security organization, and civil Aviation Authority officials. The local policy, Emergency Pubic Health Officials, and Fire Departments constituted a multistakeholder’s team that applied relevant approaches in implementing emergency response procedures (Fakhruddin, Blanchard, and Ragupathy, 2020). Different airports prepared their employees and stakeholders to communicate the crisis and implement the organizational performance approach.
2.3.5 Resilience and Agility
Resilience and agility determine the crisis management approach to enhancing sustainability. The role of technology and digitalization played a significant factor in achieving resilience and agility. Caballero (2021) indicated that the principle guiding effective recovery in crisis management is digitalization, sustainability, and resilience. A review from the international airport indicated that elements that underlined the structure of the airports a for the recovery process and the technological transformation that exists in the aviation industry. The roadmap to recovery focused on digitalization and resilience, which addressed the benchmarks for success.
Digitalization of airports is a resilient and agile factor that seeks to make airports implement customer-centric management using technology. The airports used technological tools to map the crisis, monitor the recovery processes, optimize work processes after the pandemics, and increase sustainable business processes. Across the world, airports predicted trends through transit in airport facilities. The agile business processes increased the efficiency and success of businesses. The use of the airport 4.0 strategy informs the role of biometric access, augmented reality, and robotic assistance in promoting airport operations’ success (Gjøsæter, Radianti, and Chen, 2018). While these breakthroughs are already in existence, their contribution to the overall mitigation and sustainability of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Sustainability was the benchmark for protecting the green initiatives during and after the COVID 19 pandemic. Most airports engaged in a circular economy to help decarbonize industrial and logistic operations (Caballero, 2021). The focus is on environmentally friendly initiatives and investing in aircraft and processes that encourage airports to expand their networks to new routes. The airports developed sustainability and environmental sustainability, promoting access to more opportunities inherent in connecting with airports and airlines for more business partnerships. In the Middle East, airports support their business by developing lean strategies. These ensured that airlines set up frequent private meetings that provide quality customer services.
The mitigation process succeeded because airports proposed dimensions of risk management during the COVID 19 pandemic. Research indicates commonality in developing a sustainable approach that adheres to the responsibility of establishing a philosophy of digitalization (Gjøsæter, Radianti, and Chen, 2018). The goal was to deal with the unfolding crisis, address the repercussions, and promote the recovery process. The general management’s ability helped airports in Europe embrace technological innovation in monitoring the crisis and promoting efficiency in the recovery process. Therefore, airports employed transformative and transactional leadership to help propel the mitigation efforts and deal with the uncertainties of the COVID 19 pandemic (Bhaduri, 2019). In essence, the recovery and mitigation mechanisms allowed the staff to work with senior management to mitigate the disruption of COVID 19 on the internal and external business environment.
Digitalization and sustainability promoted resilience. The bridge on which airports created recovery strategies was the resilience tools. The day-to-day operations required infrastructure that would convert the crisis into an opportunity. Therefore, airports showed their resiliency by developing by adapting to a network of electric vehicles and deploying car parks for employees and passengers. The initiatives encouraged and promoted sustainable business processes (Gjøsæter, Radianti, and Chen, 2018). Airports operate on a business model that offers a gateway to environmental sustainability. Therefore, airports managed their business using technological connectivity and embraced renewable energy. The sustainable measures sought to optimize the airports’ operations across the European airspace, focusing on cutting carbon emissions.
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