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Gander Airport Case Study

Crisis Management Case Study based around Gander International Airport on September 11, 2001. Group work assignment. Classroom Assignment.

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Gander Airport Case Study

  1. 1. Operation Yellow Ribbon Strategy Case Study
  2. 2. Case Layout•Discussion Image (Gander Airport, Sept 11, 2001)•Crisis Case Overview•Crisis Management Team Assignment•**In Class Group Work**•Common Mistakes/Discussion Topics•Task Review & Learning Outcomes
  3. 3. Gander International Airport
  4. 4. September 11, 10amWhat is Gander:• Gander International Airport• first North American airport on the trans-Atlantic route• “Trans-Atlantic Refuelling Stop”• Small location for emergency use.What happened on 9/11:• US Airspace indefinitely closed.• Took in 39 wide-body aircraft, mostly heading for U.S. destinations.• The total number of passengers and crew accommodated at Gander was about 7,600.• The total population of Gander is fewer than 7,000 people (approx 1800 under the age of 12)Comment:• Effort in accommodating all of these unexpected guests was monumental.• Gander Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said that there were more people at the airport than in the town.
  5. 5. Crisis Management Team• Your group is in charge of formulating and implementing an immediate (3hr), short (24hr) and medium term strategy (72hr).• There are 4 hotels (capacity approx 800)• There are 3 schools (capacity 2000)• There is one main shopping mall. •Gander is isolated, so no immediate help is coming, or can be called for. •Isolated until US Airspace opens again •Gander to Quebec is an 18hr journey by road. What do you do?
  6. 6. Group Work• In groups, as the Mayor of Gander and Head of the Crisis Management team you must put in place plans for dealing with the influx of people.• Areas of consideration include but should not be limited to: – Processing of passengers off and on to planes – Accommodation – Health & Safety – Food and Water. – Communication & Information – Resource Organisation (Volunteers, Public Workers)
  7. 7. Considerations•This is an “external event” • `you cant change, only react’•Crisis Management Teams should have distance /objectivity and not allow emotion to cloud theirjudgement.•Teams should strive to have a clear policy onleadership/management•Strategy for unknown•Action (step by step... Consequences)•Evaluation / follow up / review•All actions have issues/consequences that must beconsidered… for example ‘we’ll put everyone in theschools (action), but all the schools are full of childrenat 10am (issue/consequence).
  8. 8. Management Style/Design•Management Style: Autocratic/Democratic/Laissez-Faire.•Group think per topic, or individual assigned to differentareas?•One manager delegating roles? Or standardisedclassroom group approach?•Why have you designed your team the way you have?
  9. 9. Processing passengers•Gander is a small airport, familiar with deplaning oneplane at a time. Consider this, should you decided todeplane, ID, and document every passenger, and youmanage to do it at an impressive speed of onepassenger per minute, that is 7,600 minutes, or126hrs, or just over 5 days. This is not practical.•How will you empty the planes, and record/monitor allpassengers at a time of heightened security fears?
  10. 10. Accommodation•“Put people in hotels!!” – but what about the peoplealready in the hotels? Existing customers?•“Put people in the schools!” – but it’s a normal school dayat 10am, the schools are full of children. What’s your plan forthe children?•Transport – how are you getting 7,600 people around theisland?•“Women and children” – not families and the elderly?•There is often an effort from students to accommodatepeople in luxury. This is a CRISIS. 2/3 families per hotelroom is a legitimate answer. Makeshift beds in a schoolgymnasium is a legitimate answer
  11. 11. Health and Safety•Interestingly, students seem very concerned withhealth and safety. What are the reasons for this?Often, students forget that everyone on the flights haswillingly embarked on a Trans-Atlantic Flight.
  12. 12. Food & Water•For such a small island, feeding an effective 100%increase in population is very challenging. Note thatthe island can no longer be accessed by air, soadditional supplies will not be forthcoming. How canyou deal with this.•In the TV Movie of this event (Diverted, 2009) there isa very good scene when the crisis is being announcedvia public radio, of the volunteerism and goodwillshown by the people of Gander to make sandwiches,hot meals, soup, etc.
  13. 13. Communication•Communication and access to information is key. At times ofuncertainty people crave information. How will youcommunicate to volunteers? To passengers?•Do you inform passengers of events in New York? Why/whynot?•How often do you grant access to information? An importantdecision taken in the real life event was to issue an addressvia TV & Radio every hour, on the hour with informationupdates, even if the update was “There are no new updatesat this time.” Why was this important?•One mistake that is common is the assumption that allpassengers speak English, in one instance, a plane from theMiddle East had no English speaking passengers – how doyou deal with this?
  14. 14. Common ‘Mistakes’•“Send people by boat to mainland” •Why might this be a problem? •Where do you send them? Who pays? •How do you monitor/record this? •Who gets to go, who stays? •Quebec 18hrs away by car.•“Contact hotels regarding rooms” •This is too broad, and lacks conviction. •“Inform hotels that they have been temporarily designated as shelters for 72 hours, you apologise for any inconvenience and would appreciate all assistance.”•“get volunteers to do…” •Who are these volunteers? How are they organised? Over a 72 hour period if they ALL work at the start, presumably they’ll be tired very soon. Time delegation is important
  15. 15. Learning Outcomes•In times of crisis COMMUNICATION is key.•Time limits should be placed on groups to replicatetime pressures associated with crisis management.•For variety, fictitious ‘FACTS’ can be introducedmidway through group work to see how groups react,for example: 1) Airspace has re-opened after allpassengers have been deplaned. 2) An additional 10planes will arrive in 3hrs time, carrying 2,000passengers.•One key issue is the groups management styleselection. For a crisis of this nature there is a strongcase for an autocratic leadership style.
  16. 16. The Unpopular Decision?•An interesting discussion topic is whether there is merit to NOTdeplaning the passengers, rather keeping them all on board the planesindefinitely.•While this would less than enjoyable for the passengers, it may makesense from a crisis operation perspective.•The airplanes become glorified hotels.•Communication is made easier.•There is no need to record/document passengers.•The town/island remains undisrupted.•There is likely a decent quantity of food on board the planes.•Schools and hotels are unaffected.•Resources can be brought to one focal point, the airport.•If you opt for this approach, what if airspace remains closedlonger than 72 hours? Remember, at the outset, you do not knowhow long this crisis will last.
  17. 17. Useful Links Film about the Operation Yellow Ribbon. Wikipedia Article Gander Airport Website Synopsis and President Barack Obama thanksGander 10 years on.
  18. 18. case study author: Jeff Tayloremail: jeff@jefftaylor.iewebsite: www.jefftaylor.ielinkedin: via email for guest lectures and academic seminarssome facts and figures within the case have been altered for illustrative purposes