Face the Consequences

The hearts of several friends and family members were torn to pieces after receiving notice about a plane crash on Thursday, March 24, 2015, when Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps, killing 150 passengers. What left people all over the world with great astonishment and complete jaw-dropping shock was the possible reason for the crash.

After searching and gathering evidence from the remains of the plane, it seems that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz is the culprit for this unbelievable tragedy. Fingers pointed directly toward Lubitz after the cockpit voice recorder was recovered during the search. A few seconds of calm, composed breathing followed by screams and pounding knocks were heard through the recorder.

The investigation continues to unravel with more information giving something of an answer as to why this man chose to bring the plane down in its final flight. Investigators found medical reports in Lubitz’s home from his doctor stating that he was considered “unfit to work.”

So, how does a well-known European airline company recover from such a fear-generating, heart-breaking event?

Germanwings continues to send their deepest condolences to the friends and family members of the passengers on Flight 9525. Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, provided special flights from Barcelona and Dusseldorf to Marseille for friends and relatives of the passengers who passed away. Those who traveled to Marseille were taken to a location as close to the accident site as possible. The company also took the time to personally contact family members of the passengers individually, discussing any further details of the investigation. The airline company continues to show sympathy toward those who were greatly affected by this tragedy.

Both CEO Carsten Spohr of Lufthansa and CEO Thomas Winkelmann of Germanwings took the time to pay their respects to the victims of the crash at a memorial created in a small village near the crash site.

From a marketing perspective, the company is holding up its own. I don’t believe the brand will drastically suffer because of the immediate action it has taken in such a short period of time. Lufthansa and Germanwings airlines have taken great lengths to bring comfort and security to all of its customers, which in turn, will eventually build the customers’ trust with the company once again.

Germanwings is publicly showing compassion and sorrow for those who lost loved ones in the plane crash. The company was fully prepared to take responsibility and adapt to what the crisis brought forth.

During most crisis involving fatalities, companies will most likely use the apologetic approach. But in 2009, Toyota Motor Corporation decided to take a different route.

Toyota Motor Corporation underwent one of the largest recalls in the history of the automotive industry from 2009 – 2011 due to floor-mat entrapments and sticky pedals in certain Toyota models. This crisis could have been easily prevented, but instead, the company chose to turn a blind eye and embark on a PR disaster.

There were several earlier cases reported before the recall, such as a customer in Europe who complained about his Camry’s gas pedal sticking. Toyota refused to make this and many other customers’ documented complaints public, which led to a questioning of the corporate culture of the brand.

The damage caused by the company not quickly taking action for the safety of its consumers was revealed in a horrifying car accident involving four fatalities.

On August 28, 2009, California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and his family crashed in a Lexus. Saylor, unable to slow the car due to the entrapment of a floor mat on the accelerator, lost control of the vehicle. Before the crash one of the passengers made a 911 call. The man on the phone begins to panic and tells the operator what was happening. You can hear the man tell his family to pray and then the call drops.

After this devastating tragedy, Akio Toyoda, CEO of the Toyota Motor Corporation, finally stood in front of the world to apologize for the mistakes Toyota had made. He sent out letters to customers who owned the millions of models that were being recalled, but he didn’t come across as apologetic, personalized, or sympathetic.

Unlike Germanwings, Toyota suffered greatly from its response to crisis. Crisis situations occur every day, and it’s the way a company handles the situation that makes the greatest difference.

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