Just over a month ago, the airline crew website, PPrune, banned all further mention of Etihad on its forums. This was presumably after legal threats from Etihad. To my knowledge, Etihad is the only airline of any size that has taken such action.
All internet forums can attract malicious posts and PPrune is no different. Every airline has its implacable critics from within its own ranks as well as aggrieved ex-employees. Some of these people do step over the line of what is either reasonable or honest.
Most large companies now have procedures for monitoring internet posts about their company and will take disciplinary action against employees when necessary. Responsible websites, such as PPrune, will also remove posts and ban posters when approached by an aggrieved party. Any sensible airline knows how to handle this.
There is much of value for airline crew on PPrune and by no means all the posting about Etihad has been negative. Prospective crew use the forum to compare airlines – not just in terms of pay but in matters like crew scheduling, staff accommodation and staff travel. Pilots also use the forum to discuss safety and airline incidents. Whilst some of the comments might be foolish or uneducated, it is fairly easy, even for outsiders, to distinguish between malicious posts designed to trash an airline’s reputation and those that wish to discuss an event sensibly and learn from any mistakes. Now pilots and cabin crew can look at comments on Emirates, Qatar, Gulf and virtually every other airline in the world – but not Etihad.
There are three obvious reasons why Etihad might have taken such draconian action:
- They have something they want to hide about the way they treat staff
- They have something they want to hide about either one or several safety issues
- They are simply inept and do not understand their action is likely to do their reputation more harm than good.
I suspect the answer is a mixture of all three – but mostly the third.
Safe, well-run airlines have nothing to fear from being open. This issue does not just affect airline staff. If an airline wants to keep things hidden, it is a very good reason for passengers not to fly with them.