Business Project Helpstayma1
Changing the Face at the Busiest Airport in the World through
Background: Dated and In Need of a Revamp,
But It has to be Business as Usual...
BAA Airports Ltd. was tasked with the refurbishment of Terminal 1, a
40-year-old building within Heathrow Airport, the busiest international
airport in the world, whilst constantly keeping the terminal open to the 20
million annual travellers.
In 2004 BAA and the Star Alliance network, established in 1997 as the first
truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach and seamless service
to the international traveller, signed a memorandum of understanding that
would result in Star Alliance moving into Terminal 1 at Heathrow Airport.
Terminal 1 had previously been for short-haul European destinations only,
but the introduction of Star Alliance meant that international passengers
would now also be using the terminal.
This work was required to facilitate the move by a number of Star Alliance
airlines who were moving their operations from Terminals 2 and 3 to
Terminal 1. The successful completion of this project was the enabler for
the complete transformation of Heathrow Airport that is used by more than
90 airlines, which fly to more than 180 destinations worldwide.
As well as a commitment to completing the project within a very strict
deadline, health and safety issues were also a big concern given that the
project had to be delivered within a live operating passenger terminal. Any
interruption to the operation of the terminal building, and the stakeholders
or passenger experience would likely result in delays for the airlines
operating from Terminal 1 and as such, significant financial penalties for
BAA. Public and media perception of BAA would not be enhanced should
such a situation arise.
David Buisson, PMP, was chosen to lead the project. Mr. Buisson is a
certified project manager with more than 13 years experience of managing
complex and challenging projects by implementing the standards set out
by the Project Management Institute (PMI®) through A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth Edition. Under his direction, a team of professionals from a variety of backgrounds
and industries tackled one of the most important transport projects in the
UK, keeping it ahead of its European competition.
Terminal 1 had been out of date and badly in need of refurbishment, with the 40-year- old building not seeing any significant updates since it was built in the 60s. With serious refurbishment going elsewhere at Heathrow Airport, as well as the upcoming opening of Terminal 5 and the introduction of international passengers to Terminal 1, it was in need of a major overhaul.
Refurbishing Heathrow Airport Terminal 1, On Time, On Budget, With No Disruptions to Travelling Public
Challenges: Complex, Problematic and Large-Scale—
A Project Manager’s Landscape
The project team had to resolve a large number of challenging and
unexpected problems during the refurbishment, including asbestos in the
ceiling and inconsistencies to the floor level.
It was also a complex and challenging project for the team because the
work was delivered in 42 different phases, whilst remaining operational at
all times. There was also a tight time schedule to deliver the project, which
was marred by additional scope being added constantly and several delays
from airline partners with regards to their move date.
In these circumstances, the project manager consistently referred to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition for guidance on how to manage difficulties.
Human Resources Management
Management of different people and teams on this project was quite
challenging because of its scale and size. There were 11 top-tier suppliers
who reported directly to the project manager, and dozens more who
subsequently reported in to them, overall involving a very large number of
Communications and time management would prove to be a challenge
on a project involving this many different parties, especially because the
project manager was keen to maintain a collaborative approach to problem
The large number of third parties working on this project potentially could
have had severe repercussions on scheduling. If one contractor was
late in finishing levelling the floor, this could delay the contractor that
was scheduled to install the furniture, causing a larger knock-on effect
throughout the project.
Cost and Procurement Management
Budgetary reviews on the project meant that some major late changes
were made on the project including some to the original plan with only
four weeks to go. The original design for the installation of a “cladding”
system above the ticket desks for BMI Airlines that would improve both
the aesthetics and lighting for the area was deleted from the scope of
works just four weeks before the check-in desks were scheduled to open.
Upon learning of the decision, the project team was faced with an almost
“There were a number of factors associated with this project that made success a big challenge. Managing multiple stakeholders, suppliers, and contractors within a strict deadline and budget would ordinarily be difficult, but doing this alongside keeping the terminal continuously open for passengers was a huge issue that required strict planning and coordination, and the framework of the PMBOK® Guide was an invaluable resource for me to best manage all facets of this project.” David Buisson, PMP, Project Manager
insurmountable task of finding an alternative solution that was acceptable
to the various stakeholders and could also be procured and installed in less
than four weeks.
A big challenge for the team was repairing damaged floor work in the
terminal that was left when the building was initially constructed 40 years
earlier. Repairing the floor potentially added an extra 21 weeks of work to
the project. The floor in the East Linear face of the terminal was discovered
to have been constructed from different materials to the rest of the flooring
in the terminal. The floor was an uneven concrete surface instead of the
regular terrazzo tiling, which to correct, would have added a significant
amount of time to the refurbishment.
Information Technology (IT) proved another challenge in the delivery of
this project because the team had to replace existing systems within the
terminal building. This was a big challenge because it not only included
standard office network systems, but also specialist flight systems such
as Flight Information Display Screens, regulatory systems for passenger
processing, and closed-circuit television.
Completing this project sustainably and installing sustainable and energy
saving measures were an important component in the refurbishment
project. Given this was a renovation project and not the construction of a
completely new building, installing truly sustainable features to save water
for example, was very difficult in an old fashioned building.
Communications was also a big challenge for the project because there
were multiple high-level stakeholders involved who had to be consistently
updated each time there was a risk identified or when there was a change
to the schedule or budget.
Key to the success of any project is risk mitigation, which is clearly outlined
in the PMBOK® Guide. There were a number of risky tasks on this project which were essential to complete, and had they failed would have been
catastrophic and could have resulted in the closure of Terminal 1. This
would not have been a desired outcome from a passenger experience or
public perception point of view.
“Risk had to be tightly managed and identified early on to ensure that a solution could be found before it turned into a major issue that would take the project off-time and off-budget. My knowledge and experience of using the PMI PMBOK® Guide meant that communications management was strictly adhered to and regular meetings.” David Buisson, PMP, Project Manager
A big concern for the team that could potentially have been very damaging
was discovering asbestos in the ceiling. A number of the ceiling tiles
in Terminal 1 were damaged and needed to be replaced, therefore the
asbestos needed to be removed safely. Bearing in mind that 20 million
passengers pass through Terminal 1 every year, the problem could not
simply be solved by erecting scaffolding in these areas, taking down the
damaged tiles and replacing them, as this would create a health and safety
risk to the passengers and staff of Terminal 1. The agreed plan was to
construct an air-tight floor to ceiling area in the roof void around where
the damaged ceiling tiles were and extract the asbestos accordingly by a
suitably qualified asbestos removal contractor.
Undertaking renovation works in a building that is 40 years old has inherent
risks, and particularly so when electrical refurbishment is involved. It was
discovered that the East Linear check-in facility required the installation
of a new distribution board to meet the greater electricity demand. In
installing a new distribution board the power to the entire terminal had
to be temporarily turned off. This had never been undertaken in the 40
years since the building had been built and consequently there was little
confidence that when the power was turned off all of the equipment would
restart when switched back on.
An added dimension to this was that the distribution board in question
provided power to the Central Search Area where passengers were
processed through BAA Security, which is the main route to their departing
aircraft. It was therefore critical that the project leaders got this process
right otherwise the terminal would not be able to process passengers and
may have to close down until power was restored.
Solutions: Mitigating Risk and Obstacles to Come In On Time and
There were a number of difficulties that arose during the refurbishment
of Terminal 1 at Heathrow that had budgetary, scheduling, health and
safety, and communications implications. This section examines the
solutions that were used in response to these challenges, and the aspects
of the PMBOK® Guide that were examined to support developing these solutions.
Given the large number of stakeholders involved in the project, it was
important for the project manager to ensure that all parties delivered
the quality of work and level of standards that BAA normally expects.
Consequently, a very clear mandate was issued to the plethora of third-
This large-scale project had to be delivered whilst remaining completely operational for customers—challenging enough in any circumstances, but this was particularly the case for Terminal 1 at Heathrow Airport given the fact that some 20 million people a year travel through the airport.
party suppliers and contractors involved to ensure that they followed a very
specific framework for the quality and design requirements of the project.
Suppliers and contractors were able to fairly pitch for work on the project
through a competitive tender process that ensured the best people got
the job. A collaborative, non-hierarchical approach to human resources
management was taken to ensure that maximum value was achieved and
maximum knowledge extracted from the range of skills and professions
contributing to the project.
As a commitment to the Project’s Human Resource Management
knowledge area within the PMBOK® Guide, it was agreed very early on in the planning stage of the project that to have an effective and coordinated
delivery team that could respond instantly to the demands of this project,
the main contractor should be located in the same office as the project
team. The project team felt that with unexpected changes to the scope of
work such as the floor, the team would be able to deliver most effectively
by being located in the same place.
Additionally, weekly and monthly meetings were held with all suppliers to
address any grievances, problems, or issues. When a problem did arise,
the project manager would personally ensure that the issue was resolved
quickly before moving on. Good communications and people management
ensured that the project progressed smoothly.
The key to managing the project was to strictly manage the individual
contractors to ensure each small project was delivered on time.
Budgetary commitments meant that a number of last-minute changes
were made to the project. The project team and main contractor held a
brainstorming session where one of the suggestions was to use hoarding
panelling that had been used over the past 12 months for various other
construction works. Approval for this proposal was endorsed by the
relevant stakeholders and the cladding was duly installed prior to the
The cost estimating and budgeting efforts during the early stages of the
project were very challenging and, in particular, getting the balance right
in terms of work that would be undertaken at night versus those in the
daytime hours. This had a significant impact on the project budget as work
undertaken at night is far more costly and productivity is lower.
Mending the floor whilst keeping to the project deadline was a challenge,
given that other work was taking place simultaneously in the area. The
£6.3million worth of additional work was added without an increase to the original project budget.
team had also envisaged being able to use the area for storage. The
project team met with the main contractor, terminal maintenance, and other
contractors to discuss the issue of re-flooring this particular area and to
develop a joint phasing plan to sequence the work and what areas would
be protected for site storage of materials and tools. This was required to
ensure that the unexpected re-flooring work was finished in line with the
original time schedule for the East Linear Face of the terminal, and that
it did not become a barrier for other works to be completed. Despite the
prospect of a 21-week delay, the team still delivered on time.
In many ways, it was the IT behind the project that ensured that it was
successful, delivered on-time, and delivered on-budget.
IT was an integral part of the Terminal 1 project because it allowed the
project to be constantly monitored for problems by all parties involved.
The IT team at BAA developed custom software for the project that
incorporated an “Online Change Control” system that allowed any
members of the team based on- or offsite to capture changes and send
them online to the senior project manager for instant approval or rejection.
Given the large number of contractors working on- and offsite, the system
proved crucial to the delivery of the project. If groups working offsite
identified a problem for example with the budget, they could raise an
issue through the specially designed software that would go directly to the
project manager who could instantaneously approve/reject any requests.
This saved invaluable time on the project and meant that work could
continue with less delay than would have been previously experienced.
BAA has a strong commitment to ethics in their Corporate Sustainability
Programme, which is dedicated to improving design, construction, and
integration and decommissioning.
Despite the challenges of updating a building from the 60s, the project
team strove to incorporate sustainable changes to the lighting and heating.
Changes were made where possible including using energy saving bulbs
throughout, and low-energy heating.
Asbestos Risk In response to the asbestos risk, the project team, including the Health
and Safety officer, main contractor, and terminal operations team, reviewed
all of the potential options and risks and agreed that the solution was to
create an airtight area within the contaminated roof void that would not leak
into the airport.
The use of this software played a vital role in communications management for the project, allowing the entire project team to have visibility of all activity on the project almost in real time, minimising time wasting or duplication of work. This was a part of the commitment to good communications between the team and allowed for easier access to the project plans.
Weekly coordination meetings were held to ensure that any problems or issues were picked up immediately and dealt with. Each meeting would examine a five week look ahead at the work schedule anticipating any future issues before they might happen. Project manager David Buisson would examine the top five risks every week with various contractors, visiting them onsite to determine a solution to the problem.
A qualified asbestos removal contractor was then able to work within the
airtight roof void area where the damaged ceiling tiles were and extract
the asbestos. Once this work had been completed and air samples taken
to confirm that the area was safe, the main contractor could remove
the damaged tiles, replace these with new ones, and decorate them
accordingly. This process was repeated a number of times throughout
the terminal with no interruption to the passenger experience or terminal
A big part of developing a solution for the asbestos problem was assessing
and implementing project risk management. For this project, two primary
risk management schedules were developed and maintained with one at
a strategic/leadership level whilst the other dealt with the day-to-day risk
Electrical Risk Switching off all power to the old terminal building carried the heavy risk
of the power not returning at all. The project team therefore convened a
high-level meeting with all relevant stakeholders and the main contractor
to discuss the issues and formalise a plan. Subsequent meetings were
held with all of the interested parties to review the plans, risks and
mitigation activities, roles, and responsibilities prior to the actual work being
undertaken between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. on 3 November
The output and results of the various meetings and discussions were
captured in a formal process guidance document including all relevant
technical data associated with this work. The meticulous planning
ultimately proved to be a success when the power was turned off in the
terminal building, the distribution board replaced, and the power restarted
without incident or inconvenience to any of the areas impacted.
For every aspect of the project that involved any risk, risk schedules were
reviewed, updated, and published through a formal review meeting held
every month. In addition, the main contractor undertook the same process
of risk management for its respective activities along with its key suppliers.
Through this process, the top three risks identified in the risk schedule were
escalated to the project board every month for elevation within the relevant
“This project was a huge success despite considerable odds against it. It was completed on-time, on- budget with no major problems and whilst remaining open to the public. The success of this project is due to excellent management that is borne out of a good grounding from the PMI PMBOK® Guide.” David Buisson, PMP, Project Manager
Results: Delivering Value and Efficiency Through the Use of
the PMBOK® Guide
Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 was completed on time in September 2008.
The project involved more than 500,000 working hours and kept within its
£57.6 million budget.
The project delivered on time and within budget despite the numerous
problems that arose, especially the unexpected extra work that could
have caused major delays to the project delivery.
The project had a good health and safety record with no reported
incidents, despite dealing with serious hazards like asbestos.
There was effective team work between the numerous contractors,
suppliers, stakeholders, and various support functions.
All challenges were successfully met by the project team including
£6.3m of unexpected out-of-scope work that was engineered into the
final solution without an increase to the approved project budget.
Project Management Institute. (2008). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.