It’s nice to be open and honest…to a point. But idle words can cause unnecessary pain, as the Avianca Chairman found out this week.
Roberto Kriete attempted to “rally the troops” to push the troubled airline back to profitability. Sitting next to CEO Anko van der Werff, Kriete talked about the urgent financial pressures facing Avianca. But instead of serving as a rallying cry, his words sent Avianca’s stock pricing tanking, wiping out more than $40 million in market capitalization. Even though the stock later recovered, Avianca’s fragile reputation suffered further damage.
You can watch the leaked video below:
"Es urgente que le demos vuelta a esta empresa, porque tenemos un tiempo limitado"
— EL TIEMPO (@ELTIEMPO) August 27, 2019
Avianca has tried to clarify Kriete’s statements, arguing that his words were taken out of context and that he used the term “bankruptcy” in a colloquial sense, not in a literal sense.
I am sympathetic to that reaction and do not doubt its veracity. At the same time, its market-rattling reverberations demonstrate how important it is to choose our words carefully.
To be clear, we are talking about “big” Avianca here, not Avianca Brasil which recently declared bankruptcy and shut down. This is the merged Avianca-Taca that was intended to create a behemoth and perennially profitable Latin America airline.
Kriete, the former CEO of TACA, was placed in charge after the untimely departure of Germán Efromovich as Avianca Chairman in May.
United Airlines, who appointed Kriete as Chairman, has offered a lifeline of up to $250 million to troubled Avianca.
> Read More: United Airlines May Acquire Avianca
Visit the Imperial War Museum in London or other World War museums and you’ll see some variation of the “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships” signs. I think that applies here. I saw this story yesterday and chose not to cover it until I could verify it was true. It just boggles my mind the CEO would be so direct with employees in the era of cell phone cameras.