You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve read and heard enough about BAA recently. Since joining BAA as CEO in the week of the Heathrow Terminal 5 (T5) opening, we’ve been on the front page more often than we would have liked.
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A few months on, there are no headlines to say “T5 running is well”, although I’m pleased to say that is now very much the case. I hope also that many NCE readers will have travelled through T5 as a passenger and found the experience to be refreshingly hassle-free.
With T5 now running as it should be, we can start to learn the lessons of what went wrong on day one. What seems clear already is that while we managed very successfully the construction process – diverting rivers, extending transport services, building two stunning new terminal buildings with world class baggage and support systems – we did not deliver on some final aspects of integration into operations with our airline customers. And when those aspects result in a misdirected bag, that very quickly becomes a major issue for our passengers.
In the future, BAA has to earn a reputation for flawless planning and delivery in every respect. We need to get the little things right, as well as the breathtaking super achievements. The purpose of this publication is to look beyond T5 at how we will transform our airports with very close attention to the needs of passengers and airlines at all stages of the process from design to delivery.
BAA will only succeed if we can make our airline customers and passengers happy. Over the next five years, BAA will spend over £6bn on our capital investment programme. As a regulated industry, much of this expenditure – at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – is a firm commitment that we have made to the Civil Aviation Authority, based on constructive engagement with our airline customers.
Heathrow is a priority, due to its importance to the economy and national infrastructure. Over the next few years almost the entire airport will be rebuilt, refurbished or redesigned to the standard of T5. This includes a hugely complex development in which the existing T2 and the Queen’s Building will be replaced by a superb new Heathrow East terminal. All of this is to be delivered within the confines of the world’s busiest airport, without affecting its operations.
Yet, our ambition is not limited to Heathrow. We have exciting programmes at all our airports, ranging in scope from a large number of small yet significant projects to some very major programmes at Gatwick and Stansted.
What unites all of our capital programmes is the vital need to improve the experience of passengers, underpinned by an absolute commitment to quality and standards.
When I began my career as an engineer in the British automotive industry, there was a prevailing view that we could not afford to deliver high quality. But the lesson of time is that actually the UK automotive industry could not afford to deliver low quality. This experience, I am certain, applies perfectly to airports.
The cost of fixing the damage done by poor standards is very high, while high standards lead to lower costs. In the process of selecting companies to become our next generation of framework suppliers, we have rigorously sought those who share our aim for the highest quality, health and safety, sustainability and efficiency.
We want to work with people who share our excitement in developing airports that will delight the 150M passengers who use our airports every year. I hope that this publication will help us to attract the best people to work on our programmes. Our passengers deserve nothing less.
Foreword by Colin Matthews, Chief Executive, BAA