Corporate travel managers relook risk policies following MH370 incident

REGIONAL corporate travel managers say the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing last Saturday is a “wake-up call” to review and implement measures to mitigate corporate travel risk, and put in place better “duty of care”.

Texas-based semiconductor company Freescale confirmed in a statement 20 of its employees were on the ill-fated flight. Twelve were Malaysian nationals and eight were from China.

Michelle Tan, manager, Asia-Pacific Travel Operations, Oracle Global Travel, said review of corporate travel risk and security was being stepped up. On why so many employees were on the same flight, Tan said it was possible the travellers made their own bookings and the company did not know they were travelling together.

“It’s a good wake-up call to review and improve what we currently have in place,” Tan said, adding that only companies with mature and structured corporate travel policies would have limits on how many employees are permitted to travel on the same flight.

Oracle, she said, was monitoring the situation and would be advising its travellers accordingly.

McDermott, which provides offshore field development services worldwide, has in place a corporate travel policy forbidding senior executives to travel on the same flight.

“We also limit the number of travellers on the same fight to 10,” Serene Chua, McDermott Asia-Pacific travel manager, told TTGmice e-Weekly.

She added McDermott had in place an internal authorisation system that would trigger an alert if more than 10 of its employees were travelling together, and has had to stop some bookings.

On the MH370 case, Chua said it could have been a case of more than one agent making the bookings and the data was not shared with the company.

“In some companies, bookings are not be centralised. Some travellers may also make their own bookings using a self-booking tool, or insist on a particular flight when booking with the TMC (travel management company) for convenience or if they want to travel with other colleagues. The TMC may also only alert the company if there is an ‘exception’ about the booking,” said Chua. “As part of improving our duty of care, we will be reviewing what is in place, and if we need to introduce other measures.”

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