BAA’s IT overhaul to make Heathrow more resilient

21st Mar 2011
BAA’s IT overhaul to make Heathrow more resilient

Airport operator BAA today announces a landmark £100m outsourcing contract with Capgemini to run the company’s IT services.  

This is an important element in a investment programme developed by the airports’s chief information officer Philip Langsdale that is delivering innovative airport IT systems that will support everything from the landing of planes through to security queues.

Heathrow is a complex real-time business.   Over 90 airlines, supported by over 12 different ground handlers operate around 1,300 flights a day carrying over 65m passengers a year. Heathrow’s lack of spare capacity means that problems at the airport or delays at departing airports can trigger a domino-effect of problems.   For example, when planes packed with passengers arrive unplanned, this leads to congestion in the sky and then in the terminals.

Knowing how the airport is operating and, perhaps more importantly, how it is expected to operate means that decisions can be taken in time to get the right resources in the right place so as to improve both passenger experience and airline service.

Heathrow’s IT investment programme will help achieve this.  It will help Heathrow keep passengers and airlines better informed about the status of the airport; it will help improve punctuality by allowing for quicker turnaround of planes and better recovery from problems as they arise; and it will allow for more timely information on flights, passengers, their baggage and any specific needs they may have.


The IT investment programme for Heathrow led by Langsdale has four key aims:

To improve passengers’ experiences in the airport by giving them the information they need when they want it, both on-line and in the airport, supporting a quick and easy transit through the airport;

To provide the airlines and other firms at the airports with the systems and IT services and infrastructure they need for quick and secure check-in, baggage handling, stand management and gate management to ensure that journeys are smooth and hassle free

To give the airport and its airlines better  systems to deal with events and incidents to minimise disruption and provide the information they need when they need it;

To simplify an unnecessarily complex set of systems at the airport so as to give Heathrow a better quality of service and reduce costs.

BAA’s other airports (Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen) will be supported with technology that will better reflect their individual needs as point-to-point airports. They will soon begin to operate with independent airport systems, improving their cost and efficiency.

Outsourcing to Capgemini provides BAA with a stronger capability to deliver this programme.  This is a five year deal that is expected to improve service quality, reduce costs, and accelerate the pace of investment.

Philip Langsdale, chief information officer at BAA, said: “We understand that passengers want short queues, quick information and a pleasant experience that gets them on their way without stress and with the confidence their bags will come back quickly.

“Our airlines need better more timely information and  improved service quality .Our priority is improving our passengers’ experiences and getting the best value we can on behalf of our airline customers. We will have spent over £400m on IT in the five year period ending in 2013 as part of a much wider capital spending programme designed to modernise every aspect of Heathrow.

“I recognise technology on its own cannot deliver these improvements ... but it is a crucial enabler.”

On the deal with Capgemini he says: “Because our focus is on running airports, it makes sense for costly specialist IT functions to be outsourced and our buying power means that it’s much more cost effective. We want to improve our resilience and ensure that we have the right systems in place to share the right information at the right time. Capgemini will have a key role in supporting this.


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