When a crisis strikes

02 June 2011

As part of a crisis simulation exercise last month, a team of Auckland Airport stakeholders swung into action to identify the best way to deal with the aftermath of a fireball that ripped through the international terminal.


With the departures processing area, the food court and AIAL management offices all “destroyed”, as well as flights cancelled, large numbers of passengers stranded and persistent reporters phoning for information, the Airport Crisis Team had their work cut out for them.

The team, which included members of Auckland Airport’s senior management as well as representatives from Customs, MAF, the police, Immigration, various airlines and ground handlers, were required to apply their level headedness and work together to identify business recovery solutions.

The exercise was facilitated by business continuity consultant Mathew Collins of FastTrack Solutions Limited, and was fully role-played, despite airport operations remaining unaffected.

Jan Frazer, who helped organise the day, said “although actual airport operations were not affected, the role play scenario was very realistic.”

The idea behind the crisis simulation exercise was to test business continuity procedures and preparedness for events that disrupt operations rather than the immediate emergency response.

According to Jan they were asking some key questions about the ability of the business to continue. “How would we all cope in the short term and long term if key operational aspects of the airport were out of action? How would it affect our recovery response, our communications with our stakeholders and the public and our longer-term strategic thinking?

“The purpose of the exercise was to raise and consider issues rather than actually resolve all the problems generated by a particular set of circumstances,” says Jan. “Ideally good business continuity provides a ‘tool set’ that can be applied whatever the factual scenario.”