Latest news and insights from Australia’s airports

Planning to bounce forward in recovery

“This is not a sprint, this is going to be a marathon.”

So says risk management expert BA365 CEO James Yatras as he reflects on the challenges ahead for business and industry in the wake of COVID-19.

Yatras presented a webinar for the Australian Airports Association in April, highlighting the need for a considered and long term approach for those looking to maintain this unique crisis situation.

Having overseen a number of crisis responses in the aviation industry, he says those working in airports will be better prepared than some other industries, but the current climate was presenting entirely new challenges.

“As an aviation industry, we’re fortunate in that we are prepared for various crises and we have emergency plans and so forth,” he says.

“We do have a slightly different situation in relation to responding to COVID-19 in what we’d typically look at for emergency response or crisis response.”

He said this was one crisis situation where the initial intensity of the response to the virus outbreak would need to be followed by a more long term view.

“In any crisis, it tends to feel in the initial stages like hours go past in seconds and it’s a very rapid, evolving landscape and you’re quite reactive,” Yatras says.

“The trick is… to not just focus on the now but to look to the future.

“Start thinking about what’s coming now in the next days, weeks and months and start taking a risk-based approach in terms of identifying what comes next.”

Yatras observes that many businesses were feeling the financial, operational and human impacts of the fallout from COVID-19.

Those that could ensure they had the right resources, plans and procedures in place would be most successful in ensuring the resilience of their business over the long term.

He says this is a time of “multiple compounding threats” with many employees facing a great deal of fear, doubt and uncertainty at work and at home.

He said maintaining trust and loyalty within teams would be crucial as people and organisations worked through this uncertainty.

Given the COVID-19 response was ongoing, Yatras urged organisations to identify single points of failure within the business and make sure their plans would be resilient as fatigue set in.

Preserving depth in the organisation would be key, while promoting collaboration would be an essential part of keeping people connected as more of us work from home.

“We already have significant networks in place. I think just reaching out to your colleagues that you already have an established relationship with is a starting point,” he says.

“Tap into your networks, share ideas, share plans and your processes amongst yourselves and start to leverage that capability and work with your like-minded sized airports.”

As many airports are looking forward to ensuring they are ready for recovery, Yatras says this time was an ideal opportunity to look at how we could work more effectively when normal operations resume.

“We’re now in more of a monitoring and managing phase but now is the time to start to think about the wall of the elements involved in a recovery and a return to operations,” he says.

“Taking the opportunity to look at how we can improve business processes, improve operations, improve training and the way we work to not just bounce back but bounce forward.”

Ensuring staff were ready to return to normal operations would also require careful planning.

“We work in a highly safety sensitive and security sensitive environment,” he says.

“How do we make sure that we haven’t lost the edge, that our staff haven’t lost the edge in terms of their ability to return back to 110 per cent efficiency and effectiveness that they were prior to the crisis?”

He outlined a range of ways airports might look to prepare staff for the return, including the use of online systems.

To listen to the full webinar, click here.


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