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Delays of an industrial nature vary from black-bans, work-to-rules campaigns, stop-work meetings, short strike action or significant strike actions. Known industrial issues whereby airlines are advised of impending action (e.g., by АТС, fuellers, baggage handlers, and so forth) can largely be planned for, ahead of time. As a result, the day of operation typically reflects a diminished schedule as the commercial changes to fit flights around the issue are normally made prior. Thus, the IOC manages this reduced schedule similar to normal operating days. However, when sudden industrial action is taken, such as an instant stop-work or strike action, the resulting disruptions become significant.

IOC response

Responses to industrial activity vary enormously as the industrial climate can fluctuate from being insignificant to highly volatile, necessitating quite distinct actions. Known industrial action plans such as stop-work meetings say from 1000-1400 on a future date, will have been allowed prior to the current day. That is, schedule adjustments will already have been adapted around the disruption. However, industrial action on the day of operation (e.g., withdrawal of labour) can be highly disruptive. The IOC’s response is governed by the ‘rules’ set by the industrial body. Subject to preceding or current negotiation between the company and the industrial organisation, a resolution may be found, with the result that delays and cancellations are minimised. On other occasions, the action is protracted with little immediate recourse, resulting in far more convoluted remedies.


During the operating day, there may be ad-hoc requests for commercial reasons (e.g., additional capacity, or a request for a charter). This may require additional flying (if extra flights can satisfy the need) or a process of upgrading/downgrading of aircraft types to provide the extra seats or cargo capacity. For example, if additional capacity were needed to serve the ports A and B, and flights operating the routes A-C-A only justified a smaller aircraft, the IOC may consider substituting a wide-body aircraft in lieu of a narrow-body aircraft (upgrading) A-B-A, and a narrow-body aircraft in lieu of a wide-body aircraft (downgrading) A-C-A.

IOC response

The request in the IOC will usually emanate from its Commercial function. If the request is for additional flights on the day of operation, the procedure would entail searching for an available aircraft (of appropriate size), technical and cabin crews, and ensuring airport handling and slot availability can be managed. In the case of substituting aircraft within the existing schedules, juggling of the aircraft patterns without compromising other flights may be the most difficult component, especially if aircraft patterns remain out of position overnight. In addition, upgrading and downgrading flights will usually have implications for both technical and cabin crewing areas.


Disruptions due to security can range from concerns inside the terminal building (e.g., security screening process) to on-board incidents and other threats against the airline and/or its customers or staff. In many cases, and indeed the most serious events, the airline’s Security Department in conjunction with State authorities (e.g., governments) manage the process, with advice to the IOC as to the status and developments as they become known. Through monitoring of current world events, the security function within the IOC may also be the information channel with regard to advice about overflight issues, current or potential military activity, or specific threats to airports or the airline itself. More common events involve terminal security processes. If security is believed to have been compromised (e.g., a need to clarify or re-confirm passenger security compliance, on some rare occasions not only passengers but all individuals within the sterile part of the terminal may need to be ejected entirely from the terminal and completely rescreened. This may quickly become a dramatic and somewhat chaotic process of having to evacuate all personnel from the immediate terminal (i.e., building complex) as well as those who have already boarded aircraft and may otherwise be ready for departure. As can be imagined, the extent of turmoil caused rapidly influences all departures for several hours, thereby causing widespread disruption for all affected airlines using that part (or all) of the terminal.

IOC response

In the case of a terminal evacuation and subsequent re-screening of all personnel, the IOC will be guided by the airport as to the expected duration, flights impacted, and size of delays. This information will help to inform the likely network effects, to which can be added the impact on the fleet utilisation, crews and tranships, and of course, taking into account the time of day, may also impact on curfews or other limiting factors. As a result, the IOC may need to select immediate and ongoing flights that may be delayed, as well as identifying where potential cancellations may be made that will assist in restoring the schedules as best as possible.

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