Birmingham International Airport

Topics: Management, Airport, People mover Pages: 9 (2050 words) Published: October 5, 2014


In the space of just 30 minutes every weekday, around 5.00 in the evening, around 20 flights arrive and depart from the Eurohub Terminal. At the same time, aircraft are arriving and leaving from the Main Terminal next to the Eurohub. Across the runway and acres of tarmac, at the site of the original airport, the overnight freight operation is just beginning to wake up with the arrival of staff and the preparations for the first aircraft from Europe or the United States.

Some of the 7,000 staff from the 150 organisations based at Birmingham International Airport (BIA) see to the needs of their customers. The baggage handling operation is sorting, checking and dispatching bags to the many departing aircraft. The ground crews are loading and unloading aircraft, putting meals on board, filling the fuel tanks and cleaning aircraft during their brief spell at the airbridge. The airlines' ticketing staffs are dealing with lines of passengers, each of whom may have a different final destination. The information desk is fully staffed, dealing with the many queries, such as people wanting to know if their plane is on time, the location of a bank or hotel, or trying to work out how to get by road or rail to their final destination. Passengers flow through the lounges, passport control and security checks, and use toilets, duty free shops and restaurants, all of which have to be kept clean and stocked for their convenience. All of these activities, and more, are coordinated by BIA's Operations Director, Richard Heard. Richard explains his role:

'Out of all the people that work at the airport, BIA employs about 700 and I oversee about 600 of them. These operations people are basically concerned with the day-to-day running of the airport and the short and medium-term operational planning. This includes a whole raft of things on the airfield and in and around the terminals. The air-field side of things essentially involves maintaining the runways, agreeing slot allocations with the airlines, developing and implementing the safety management systems and keeping the fire crews fully trained. For example, this is a heavily regulated area so we work very closely with the Civil Aviation Authority. The other side of the operation is about managing the terminal buildings and other facilities. This is almost like running a shopping centre with its focus on customer service but with special security arrangements. Airport security is a key task which we run in-house, employing about 300 people. I also have a facilities management team and an engineering services team that look after the maintenance of the whole site.

'In terms of long-term design and development, we set up teams to oversee the planning of new building projects, such as new catering outlets, car parks and people mover systems. This plan uses the forecasts of passenger numbers and guides our decisions about what to build and when, and how to pay for it. We have been growing at a rate of about 10 per cent a year over the last 10 years. In 2000 the airport handled 7.6 million passengers and our growth is set to continue, with an anticipated 10 million passengers expected to travel through Birmingham by 2005. This plan involves serious money; we are talking about a capital plan of about £50 million a year over the next 15 years. This is all very much driven by operational needs. Managing and developing the airport's operations are huge challenges.

'One of the major tasks for operations is not just to provide the infrastructure for all the other organisations on site - such as airlines, handling agents, retailers, cargo handlers - but also to provide the leadership and coordination for them. There are also groups off site, such as community groups, which we liaise with as we work to monitor and improve the environment. My personal job is about coordination and setting the safety and customer service standards for everyone to...
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