EK 521 Incident – Efficient Crisis Management & Communication by Emirates Airlines

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Dubai, Wednesday, 3rd August 2016

3 August 2016 - Mind Speaks - EK521 Incident

Emirates flight EK521 took off from Trivandrum in India while landing at Dubai International Airport on August 3, 2016 at about 12.45pm local time met with an emergency situation.

This is an age of swift and uninterrupted electronic communication. Dubai is an extremely busy city and its airport being open and visible from several points within the city.

  1. The airlines tweeted about this incident immediately.  As soon as news broke of the incident, Emirates airlines official social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter changed their logo to a grey and white picture.As the news broke out and evolved, social media photos started coming out which showed thick plumes of black smoke rising from the burning plane.
  1. Within almost 1 hour of the incident, i.e. at 2pm Emirates put out a tweet saying, “We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe. #EK521”. Emirates confirmed that there were 282 passengers and 18 crew on board. They also confirmed that emergency response teams at Dubai Airport had fully extinguished the fire on the Emirates plane.
  1. The Airline’s well-trained crew were quick and safely evacuated all the 300 passengers including the 18 member crew from the plane in a matter of 46 seconds! (as tweeted by one user on Twitter).
  1. The nationalities of the passengers were announced on Facebook at 3pm. Dubai Airports offered refreshments across all terminals throughout the day. Passengers were just asked to present their ticket or boarding card.
  1. At 4.10pm Emirates put out an official statement on their website and Youtube page by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman & Chief Executive on incident involving EK521. “We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe,” he said.
  2. At 5.30pm, Emirates cancelled 42 flights at Dubai International.  Dubai Media office tweeted at 5.50pm that specialized teams at Dubai Airports worked simultaneously to ensure safety & comfort of all passengers following the incident.  The media office also tweeted that DXB will resume departure operations starting 18.30 UAE local time with larger aircraft given first priority. They also tweeted that all Emirates passengers who had purchased tickets on or before 3rd August will have rebooking; re-issue & cancellation charges waived.
  3. The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) confirmed at 7.22pm that a fire fighter Jasim Issa Mohammad Hassan attached to Dubai Airports lost his life during firefighting operations. “He died while doing his duty and while evacuating the people to safety. On behalf of the General Civil Aviation Authority, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of deceased. I salute his ultimate sacrifice that kept many from harm’s way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family”, said the director general of GCAA. At the 7.30pm press conference Ahmed bin Saeed Al Makhtoum said: “We pay tribute to the firefighter who lost his life fighting the blaze. We thank all teams that dealt with the incident. He also paid tribute to the pilot who was instrumental in saving the passengers lives. The flight pilot is a well experienced Emirati national with more than 7000 flight hour. Medical teams dealt with 13 persons with minor injuries, who left after a short time.

An excellent example of Crisis Management

Emirates 3

My sincere congratulations to Emirates Airline EK521 Captain and Crew for handling the Crisis exceedingly well. Highest level of praise also goes to the Dubai Airport Emergency Response Team, who handled the situation and made sure the incident was brought under control. As regards to Emirates Airline Crisis Management and Communication Team, this is an excellent example for all global Comms/Crisis Management Teams to observe and follow how effectively and efficiently a major crisis can be handled and communicated.

Proof of Efficient Crisis Communication from Emirates

Emirates 4Everyone will agree and accept that this is not an easy task these days, when all are on social media and dissemination of information is just within the press of our fingers. On behalf of Emirates, the press conference and address by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman & Chief Executive was very clear and matter of fact. The airline also came out with timely developing statements to avoid any rumors and feed stakeholders with right information.

Jasim Issa Mohammad Hassan – A great hero born!

Emirates 2.jpgLast but not the least, as a fitting tribute to the brave firefighter Jasim Issa Mohammad Hassan who lost his life, several high authorities from UAE government, including H.H. Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, H.H. General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces attended his funeral and offered condolences to his family and friends.  His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, offered his sincere condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of the martyr of the nation, firefighter Jassim Issa Al Balooshi, who was martyred while extinguishing the fire, which involved Emirates Airline plane on Wednesday. In his account on the social networking “Twitter” said, “We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the martyr of the nation, firefighter, Jassim Issa Al Balooshi. And we ask God to bestow patience and solace on his bereaved family.” He added, “As far as our grief on Jassim, however we are proud of our youth and their sacrifices while performing their duties in protecting the lives and saving people. This country has men to be proud of.


Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

@rameshmenonauh /3rd August 2016

{Compilation of information from: Various news media – Khaleej Times, Gulf News, The National/Twitter/Emirates Airlines site etc}

#EK521 #EmiratesAirlines #CrisisManagement #CrisisCommunication #HSE


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