Many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic may feel they are deer in the headlights: frozen and about to become a victim of this calamity. Here’s a story of how a pivot saves an airline from Covid-19.

One of my spiritual teachers suggests we are either creators or victims and we can’t be both, ever.

  • Do you see yourself as a victim of this pandemic? You may well be if you caught the virus and had a tough time in a hospital on a ventilator.
  • Or, are you a creator who found your way through this pandemic with grace?

Emirates airlines, one of the premier passenger flyers in and out of Dubai, faced having to make a pivot to save the airline. All passenger flights in and out of Dubai were suspended indefinitely due to COVID-19. That was their whole business–passengers. 

While Sir Tim [Clark] admits that it was challenging to go from a “robust operation” to a hard stop, he points out that the airline’s fleet of 777-300ERs was helpful in the switch to more cargo operations – saying of the aircraft, “we were then able to adapt those to cargo operations. So much so, we got cracking with that fairly quickly.”

By the first week in April, the airline had roughly 15 of the aircraft flying as 777 freighters. As of the end of May, Clark reports that there were 85 passenger ERs flying cargo.

Emirates agility is impressive. It points out what can be done when a team focuses like a laser beam. The story is chronicled well in Simple Flying’s article Emirates Rapid Focus On Cargo Helped Save The Airline.

An aircraft doesn’t make money sitting on the ground. Emirates takes an additional flight crew onboard each aircraft so they could turn around immediately and not waste time overnighting at their destination. Any other airline doing that? It likely required cooperation with the flight union.

Emirates rapidly pivoted and got into a new business leveraging its existing aircraft. Very impressive. From my vantage point, they made the complex simple around people, process, and technology.

They exploited what they had and didn’t try to do anything that required great innovation to succeed. They kept people employed and aircraft running around the clock.

Are you feeling like your business is in the doldrums? What pivot can you make to get out?

 

Thought for the week:

“We may not be changing the world dramatically, but we’re improving it one note at a time.” – Sammy Nestico, Jazz, Trombone, Bigband

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Dave Gardner

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, author, and blogger based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner focuses on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. Dave is the author of Mass Customization: An Enterprise-Wide Business Strategy - How Build to Order, Assemble to Order, Configure to Order, Make to Order, and Engineer to Order Manufacturers Increase Profits and Better Satisfy Customers.

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