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Air Canada CEO Gets Defensive

TempNo one wants to face a reporter's tough questions, but it's best to handle them gracefully. Air Canada's CEO and president Calin Rovinescu got angry during an interview with a Globe and Mail reporter, and it didn't end well.

Rovinescu was asked about bumping a 10-year-old boy when a flight was overbooked, and he responded,

No. I’m not getting into specific customer dynamics with you, Trevor. And that’s not what I expected this interview to be about, and I’m happy to end it here if that’s—I’m not getting into discussions with respect to specific customer experiences.

The interviewer then asked Rovinescu about weather planning because of climate change, and he was a bit sarcastic, saying they can't do anything to control the weather. Things seem to get worse when the interviewer pushed him about an incident in July, when a plane almost collided with others on the taxiway:

Can you talk to me about pilot error? Just in terms of—

Trevor, I’m not sure I’m loving the direction of your interview here. I thought we were talking about a more generic dynamic around what the airline has achieved.

Instead, Rovinescu could have used the technique of "bridging," or transitioning from the interviewer's question to something more positive about the airline's safety record or plans for the future. He sounded defensive throughout, and the interviewer took advantage by asking tougher questions.

Rovinescu wanted to avoided seeming vulnerable—risking emotional exposure—which just made him more vulnerable and open to harm. A PR Daily article summarizes the issue well:

[Rovinescu] reacted to Cole’s questions instead of answering them—and by doing so, unnecessarily increased the negative tone of the article.

Image source.

Discussion:

  • Read the reporter's questions. How could Rovinescu have responded to each instead?
  • Did the reporter push too much? Were his questions unfair?