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Key-Learnings from the Expert Talk with Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech from Austrian Airlines

Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech talks about the strategies he is using to guide Austrian Airlines through the crisis.

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Expert Talk mit Alexis von Hoensbroech (CEO Austrian Airlines): Turbulenzen strategisch meistern!

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Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech

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© Austrian Airlines Michèle Pauty

On March 17, 2021, Dr. Alexis von Hoensbroech (CEO Austrian Airlines) was a guest at the Expert Talk with Prof. Wolfgang Güttel on the topic: 'Strategies for exceptional situations: Mastering turbulence strategically!'. He is leading Austrian Airlines stably through the current CoVid crisis and shared his experiences with us.

These are the key learnings we can take away from the talk:

  • Strategic planning is helpful and necessary even in extreme situations to get an idea of the future development. Of particular interest was the question of what would be the worse mistake: assessing developments too positively or too negatively! After answering this question, a decision can be made more clearly.
  • Communication is extremely important and was greatly intensified within the organization during the crisis and also pushed outward via social media channels. This made it possible to communicate the further development perspective of the organization. In this context, it is important to convey a "realistic optimism"!
  • Use opportunities presented by the crisis to make difficult decisions that would be difficult to implement in more normal times. In particular, the streamlining of the aircraft fleet was completed during the crisis and will provide good relief for the cost structure in the future.
  • A cross-functional crisis board under the Executive Board, which is not subordinate to the Board of Management, was very helpful. The crisis board was able to devote its full attention to the operational management of the crisis, while the Executive Board had the opportunity to plan strategically for the future. However, close interaction between the two institutions was important.
  • Having emergency procedures anchored in the organization also helps in extreme situations that were not expected even in the worst future scenarios. In this respect, airlines are generally very well positioned, as they constantly practice and develop their extensive emergency procedures. These were and are relieving factors during the crisis, as it was possible to fall back on functioning routines (processes, roles, etc.).

In any case, the outlook was positive and an end to the crisis seems to be on the horizon thanks to the vaccination coverage rate, the electronic vaccination passports, etc. Accordingly, an upturn is expected. Accordingly, business is expected to pick up from the middle of the year, as the need to travel and also to hold meetings in person has not decreased dramatically again.

In crisis situations, companies are particularly challenged and in many areas the "true character" of people, organizations and technologies may be revealed. Especially as a manager it is important to keep a "cool head" and to be able to rely on your own strategic management skills - we offer the chance to consolidate these skills in our MBA Strategic Management & Technology, opens an external URL in a new window.

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