Operations Management Challenges at Heathrow Airport

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CASE STUDY. The case, which is based on Normand Boivin’s experience as Chief Operating Officer at Heathrow Airport, addresses various issues related to capacity, customer satisfaction, and solutions to be reviewed and implemented.


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Operations Management Challenges at Heathrow Airport: Abstract

Airports are complex environments, with decision-making processes divided among numerous authorities, and many stakeholders pursuing their own interests. Based on Normand Boivin’s tenure as chief operating officer (COO) of Heathrow Airport between 2011 and 2018, the case addresses various capacity-related issues ranging from customer satisfaction to solutions studied and implemented. Heathrow is Europe’s busiest international airport and one of the major hubs of the civil aviation world. Yet Heathrow faces the same challenges as all other major airports in industrialized countries. When Boivin was appointed COO in 2011, the airport’s competitive position had been heavily damaged by a reputation for poor customer service. When he stepped down, seven years later, Heathrow found itself once again in an enviable competitive position. The case reviews the steps taken by Boivin to resolve many of the problems it had faced.

Teaching objectives

By the end of this case, students will:

  • Be familiar with capacity management issues in complex environments such as airports
  • Understand the relationships between variables affecting airport capacity
  • Understand the balance essential to an efficient recovery plan

Multi-part case

  • Part A
  • Part B (included when buying a teacher license only)

Additional information

Also available in French.

Teachers’ notes are available for university teachers only. Please contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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