I was going through old information about the Swissair tragedy and was stunned to find this. This was apparently written by a man who interned with an Emergency Planning and Response Dept., of a major airline, as he states in his paper. It was posted on Kenyon's web site. Kenyon is a company who handles the aftermath of air tragedies. They were involved in the recovery of effects and human remains, of the Swissair 111 victims. I thought they acted for the most part, professional given the difficult task they had, but was surprised to find this paper on their web site, that attacked a letter written and published by Tara's father.
The article that Mark was responding to, was full of praise for the way Swissair handled the tragedy, mostly from a financial prospective as it was after all, published in the WSJ. Mark pointed out that though many people, including certain family members of the victims' were praising Swissair for its great generosity, the airline did successfully through the courts, invoke the 'Death on the High Seas Act'. That substantially reduced the amount of money that the victims' families received. In every way during the litigation, they went after their best interests as corporations will do. He was questioning why Swissair was getting such glowing reviews considering what they were actually doing. They were slick as Mark said, with their PR, but at the end of the day they were just as self serving as any corporation would be.
Mark also pointed out the obvious that people seemed to miss. The plane crashed. 229 people were dead. Swissair held much of the responsibility for this terrible tragedy. Every time we saw an article like this it made our skin crawl. I'm very surprised that Kenyon would have this on their site. I guess I shouldn't be. After all, they really worked for Swissair.
Here is Mark's letter to the WSJ:
Dear Sir/Madam, We lost our sixteen year old daughter Tara in the crash of Swissair 111. We are offended at the suggestion that Swissair exhibits "exemplary conduct" or "humanitarian attitude" in it's "handling of the process". Swissair's handling of the crash has been as crass and cynical as any corporation faced with a group of victims. Their form letter said essentially; "Sorry for your loss. Call our 800 number to receive cash, no strings." The letter didn't mention Tara's name. Their executives made ceremonial appearances at Swissair sponsored events, but certainly avoided personal contact with surviving family members. Miles Gerety, self proclaimed head of the informal group, The Families of Swissair 111, says that Swissair sets "the gold standard" in handling family concerns. We think that the "green standard" more accurately describes Swissair's approach. They have coopted the Families of Swissair 111 with promises of quick and generous financial settlements....but to date have taken no action to increase their actual payout. Swissair has made no concessions whatsoever in the litigation. They argue vigorously for application of the Death on the High Seas statues which would drmatically limit their liability. They are fighting European families' ability to sue in U.S. courts and agressively seeing jurisdictions and applicable law that favors defendents.
Swissair has been publicly kind to Mr. Gerety's family group. They sponsor memorial services and pay for family travel. Gerity praises Swissair publicly. I am not a member of the Families of Swissair 111. I was thrown off the group's private internet message board for discussing the cause of the crash and other unpleasant subject matter- subject matter that might be offensive and therefore strain the family group's relationship with Swissair. We think that Gerety and his group have been duped by Swissair. The gesture of expedient payments that mitigate near term financial hardship for those who need it is commendable, but Swissair is far too concerned with the positive spin it places on the commendations. Personal contact and confidentiality would serve the surviving family members far better than Swissair's PR driven "program".
Last be far from least, let us not forget that there are reasons why Swissair 111 crashed. It was not an act of God. It is likely that Swissair 111 crashed because somebody exercised stunningly poor judgment concerning the safety of passengers. We trusted Swissair with our daughter. Their failure is our loss. No amount of slick PR changes that sad reality.
Mark and Barbara Fetherolf
It would be nice to have the original article in the WSJ, but I haven't found it yet. I'll post it if I do.
FWIW, I am still enraged whenever I hear that Swissair treated the families so well. Perhaps they could have been worse, but it certainly wasn't anywhere near ideal. They may have set up 800 numbers but, they NEVER returned a call to anyone in our family. While I could go on about details, suffice to say, I completely agree with Mark's letter as I did when I read it more than a decade ago.
Thanks for posting this, as I would never have run across it otherwise.
Mary, it still has the same effect on me. I do remember you were very supportive of both that letter and the site, which I really appreciated.
Thanks for letting me know that you found the information useful.
That's terrible, but hey we're living in an age of companies not taking responsibility for their actions.
One has to wonder if the people en masse will ever decide not to put up with it any more, and hold these companies to account.
"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Was this the article that you were looking for?
Swissair- their spin doctoring was superb & effective (Posted Tue December 17 2002 11:32 PM)
Swissair Crash Tests Relations With Insurers
CD, thank you so much for finding that! That is exactly the article that I was talking about. I looked on the old Yahoo site and couldn't find it, and forgot that I posted it on this board. Thanks again!
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