American Airlines

Crash of Flight 5966






In October 2004 a Corporate Airlines flight crashed in Kirksville, Mo. on landing, killing 13 people. Corporate Airlines was a separately-owned company that did codeshare business with American Airlines. As the Tennessee partner for American in the event of a crisis, Atkinson immediately mobilized to provide assistance to the regional carrier headquartered in the Nashville area.









One of the first steps was to provide crisis communication counsel and media training for the Corporate Airlines CEO and his executive team on messaging and media interviews. The team helped the CEO tape a video statement at a local television station for satellite broadcast within hours of the crash. Atkinson also helped prepare the CEO for meeting with families and members of the Kirksville community.

Atkinson also coordinated media relations surrounding the crash for Corporate Airlines, including:

  • Developing and distributing information about the carrier’s fleet and the aircraft involved
  • Identifying third-party experts on the industry for reporters
  • Fielding media inquiries
  • Drafting Q & A
  • Drafting updated statements for the CEO
  • Coordinating postings on the carrier’s website


Atkinson’s efforts to respond to media requests quickly and with as much information as possible ensured overall media coverage of the crash was accurate and balanced. In addition, members of the Kirksville community had a solid understanding of all the circumstances. Perhaps most importantly, family members of victims said they appreciated the carrier’s assistance, quick response, and frequent updates.

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