Conflict of Interest

I raised an eyebrow at Airbus’s  latest PR issue at the Paris Air Show covered in Businessweek.   I even felt a tinge of empathy as I imagined the PR manager cursing and pulling his hair out as he hung up the phone to the journalist who joined the dots over selling the fuel efficient per passenger and ‘environmentally friendly’ A380 to a private individual.

Quite simply, if Airbus had linked in its PR messaging to a CSR policy concerning the new A380 i.e. it’s not going to sell this huge plane to individuals, or license its use to have a minimum number of passengers (based on more environmentally-friendly fuel efficieny), than this may been avoided.  The policy just needed to be a bit more foresightful: something concrete to back up its messaging other than a metric.   Or, maybe, Airbus simply wanted to sell as many planes as fast as possible.

It comes down to how communications should be linked across the entire organization and have a role at C-Suite level…I won’t bore you with the mantra. 

Friday, smiling on,  I searched the latest chatter on this on technorati — here and here, for example.  I then came across how aviation enthusiat (I think he used to be a Qantas Ambassador) John Travolta is test piloting these beasts.   Hmmm.

Joining the communication dots myself, that tinge of empathy has gone away.


4 Responses to Conflict of Interest

  1. Steve Bowen says:


    This raises an interesting point as to the responsibility of a business to make money for its shareholders. At the end of the day, Airbus makes and sells aeroplanes. It has a responsibility to ensure to ensure that those aeroplanes do as little damage to the environment as possible, are safe, don’t cause too much disturbance in terms of noise etc. But is it responsible for the ethics of the people it sells to? I don’t think so.

    The real target of the environmentalists’ ire should be the individual who bought the aeroplane. If you want to argue that Airbus is responsible for the actions of its customers then it becomes morally liable for airlines overloading vehicles, which increases fuel costs, or running underpopulated aeroplanes which reduces per passenger efficiency. By the same argument, car companies should not sell large off-road vehicles to people who are not going to use them off road, real-estate companies should not sell large houses to single individuals and electricity companies should cut off the supply of people who don’t unplug their appliances when they’re not in use.

  2. Keith Morrison says:


    You’re dead right about shareholder value, and I didn’t deal with it sufficiently in my post.

    My main point for posting was really on how to avoid articles such as BusinessWeek’s by communicating across teams and being clear on a CSR / environmental policy, and then communicating this clearly to stakeholders…including the shareholders. If an airline plans to sell to individuals (to return value to shareholders) and claim environmental benefits of flying such vehicles, it should be prepared for such backlashes. The fact that the plan was test piloted by a famous individual pilot doesn’t leave me with much sympathy in terms of their unpreparedness. I think the issue would have come up in planning (or even through executing these early publicity plans).

    However, that said, we only get to see the output of the issue management in the media and Airbus’ argument may simply have been overlooked in favour of a far more crowd pleasing angle.


  3. Erotikspiele says:

    erotische games

    … see also this nice travel article

  4. Jackson says:

    Keep up the good work, bookmarked and referred some friends.

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