How have airlines used their media outlets to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak?

With the current strand of Coronavirus spreading rapidly throughout the world, panic is setting in, and travel has become a lot riskier and more difficult.

Airlines have been cancelling flights, but what sort of message are their PR teams giving out through their social media channels and websites?

Almost 120,000 people have been infected by COVID-19, and it’s present in 115 countries.

Is it business as normal for airlines on social media, or are they reacting to the outbreak and giving passengers information through social media?

This week’s blog post will look at how most major UK airlines have reacted to Coronavirus on social media and their websites.

So, here goes.

British Airways:

British Airways have set up a dedicated page on their website about the current Coronavirus outbreak. Updated daily, it’s quite a simple page stating that the company will contact people who have flights booked and are affected.

They have plenty of contact details on the page, and they’re telling people to follow government advice.

On their website home page, there is a link to the Coronavirus page, but it seems business as usual for British Airways other than that.

British Airways’ Twitter page has a pinned tweet offering reassurance and a ‘flexible change’ policy is response to the outbreak.

Most British Airways’ tweets are replies to concerned people, and they rarely tweet anything that isn’t a reply to someone asking a question.

British Airways are certainly aware of the Coronavirus outbreak and are reacting to it, but most of their content from their PR team seems to suggest it’s just business as usual.

TUI:

TUI’s social media is more active than British Airways, and they have put out numerous tweets about Coronavirus.

These tweets have been links to their website, links to the Government website and simple information tweets.

Like British Airways, TUI are also replying to tweets directed at them to give people the answers to their questions.

TUI have a link to ‘Coronavirus latest information’ at the top of their website, and that link takes you to a list of FAQs.

That isn’t it though. TUI have a few further links to their general information about the virus, how their cruises have been affected and how their ski holidays have been affected.

In parts, TUI’s response is similar to British Airways, but they are providing people with more information than British Airways.

Are people who travel with British Airways more likely to travel frequently and know what’s going on? Maybe that’s why.

Jet2:

Jet2’s website is slightly vaguer. Again, they have a link to information on their home page, but that link takes you to a page not specifically aimed at Coronavirus. It’s a page just for ‘travel updates’, and part of those updates are about Coronavirus.

Links are apparent on that page, but they’re just to ‘latest flight information’ and the Government website for advice.

Jet2 seem to be more visible on Twitter rather than their website. They have posted several updates about what is happening with their flights.

When looking at Jet2’s tweets, they differ from other airlines in that they don’t actually mention the word Coronavirus and don’t actually mention the reason why some of their flights have been cancelled.

It may be obvious why they have cancelled flights to Italy, but would you expect them to say why in their tweets even if you already know?

Photo credit: Creative Commons / Ian A Gratton

EasyJet:

Other than replies, EasyJet rarely tweet, and they haven’t tweeted any tweets about Coronavirus at all.

They are replying to people who tweet them with concern, but their replies are all very similar and are just saying that it’s business as normal.

EasyJet also have a ‘press office’ account, but their output is very similar to the main account with no tweets about the virus.

On their website, EasyJet is similar to Jet2. Their front page has a link to information, but that information is just on a ‘latest travel information’ page. They do however give another link, and that takes you to a dedicated page with further information and links to government advice.

These links are to numerous different country’s advice, as well as the World Health Organisation.

Ryanair:

Looking at Ryanair, they tweeted regularly until the 21st of February but haven’t tweeted since. However, they are still replying to concerned people.

They are replying to people very frequently, but the replies are all very similar and are links taking people to their corporate website instead of their more recognisable website.

Again, they have a link to information on their front page, but when the link is opened, there is a lot more for you to potentially look at than the other airlines.

There are numerous different further links on the Ryanair website, although some of them still take you to their corporate website.

Ryanair’s use of media does seem to be more thorough than the rest, but that’s only shown on their website and not through their social media channels.

Photo credit: Creative Commons /  Andreastrojak

The PR department of all airlines have noticed the impact Coronavirus could have on the airline, but the virus and the response of the airlines hasn’t dictated their business.

They all have advice and are cancelling some flights, but it’s business as usual when it comes to promoting their flights and taking bookings.

With flight numbers decreasing because of the spread of the virus, the airlines could be under threat, and the PR departments could have a very difficult job, but that doesn’t seem to be the case just yet.

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