COVID-HQ: The Butterfly Effect on Aviation Market!

Mo. Ashmawy


March 18, 2020

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Edward Lorenz, the professor at MIT, in 1950, described the chaos of his meteorological models as “the Butterfly Effect.” In these models, the flap of a butterfly’s wings in the Far East ultimately can cause a tornado in the Far West! And this is exactly how one person’s cough in Wuhan, China toppled movement of global aviation’s five billion passengers and brought the market to its knees! We live in an era where mobility, especially the long-haul, is what we are all proud to say makes the world a small village – and this is what makes airports and airlines a focal point for Coronavirus aka (COVID-19) spread. We are all sorry for our beloved ones we miss due to this virus outbreak, but if there is one thing this crisis teaches us is, we need to be able to manage the chaos! First and foremost, keeping an eye on the aviation butterflies, which are the factors that contribute most to passengers’ wellbeing! Speed, simplicity, convenience and reliability of completing core airline and airport processes are seen as the most significant contributors to emotional wellbeing. But what we observe today from the extensive hygienic measures being applied in the airports and airplanes elevate the health safety factor to protect passengers’ wellbeing. I am a big believer that this crisis will soon pass. Still, also I believe no passenger will forget the picture of the extreme hygiene measures and will not accept less than what we experience these days in airports and airplanes. Also, the aviation market now has a “quiet time” and needs to step back and take to heart what Jason Stillwell (in 1996) said, as we seek the most comprehensive answers. The five keys factors to managing chaos are:

  1. Rely less on precise planning, but maintain sight of the mission while allowing the organization to evolve;
  2. Be responsive and act quickly to meet change, directing it in a positive direction;
  3. Be adaptive and flexible;
  4. Maintain a dynamic attitude and be capable of changing; and
  5. Use chaos to your advantage.

What we need from the global aviation gurus is to fully understand these key factors and proliferate them throughout the industry. Chaos Theory, the Butterfly Effect, system dynamics, process control, feedback loops, all of these get at the same idea. The aviation market was growing exponentially, and all processes were targeting how to move passengers faster from point A to point B which, in turn, propagated Coronavirus, multiplying the devastating effects on the global economy, which amplified the impact on public health. In its finality, the airports and airlines who understand and acknowledge chaos can direct their energy and focus within the organization and affect positively on a much larger scale. The Butterfly Effect of Positive Actions and Pragmatism: Mathematical proves that “good can triumph over evil” if we all play our part.