Heathrow Airport Case Study – Terminal 1 Project Management

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Effective project management is an important aspect as far as the success of any given project is concerned (Burke 2006). This is attributable to the fact that efficient project management allows appropriate coordination of all important concepts of a project for the timely realization of the project’s goals (Rose 2013). For this reason, the success of any project requires effective collaboration among all the project’s stakeholders. Such a process takes into consideration any changes in the scope, key objectives of the given project, the appropriate team, anticipated challenges, as well as solutions to any potential challenges. This Heathrow airport case study explores project management processes of Terminal 1. It identifies the stakeholders and potential risks of the project.

Heathrow Terminal 1 Backround Information

Heathrow Terminal 1 was the original terminal of London Heathrow Airport. It was in operation between 1968 and 2015. Terminal 1 is located to the north of the airport. Prior to its closure, it was used by a number of airlines, including Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, and Emirates. The terminal had a total of 19 gates. It served both international and domestic flights. It had undergone a number of renovations and expansions over the years. Terminal 1 was connected to the other terminals at Heathrow Airport by the Heathrow Express train service and the London Underground’s Piccadilly line.

Heathrow Terminal 1 – Changes in the Project

The Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 Project experienced a number of scope changes. For example, there were changes in the structure, existing technology, as well as the environment. Such changes were attributable to several root causes. In the case of the structural changes, there was a need to repair the floor alongside other work. Efficient discussion involving the main contractors, other contractors, and the terminal maintenance team ensured that the structural changes were implemented as required.

To enhance technological changes within the project, there were a lot of challenges. In spite of this, well-developed Information Technology ensured that the project was delivered on-budget and on-time. This was attributable to the availability of an online change control system and developed custom software.

In the case of environmental changes, there was a need to enhance ethics based on the corporate sustainability program of Heathrow. Such a program ensured that sustainable changes we incorporated in heating, as well as lighting systems of the airport.

Heathrow Terminal 1 Project Objectives

Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 is one of the busiest airports in the world. As such, its refurbishment was aimed at giving terminal 1 of the airport a new face in line with the demands and needs of the aviation industry. Terminal 1 had more than 40-years of operation without undergoing any serious renovations, and for this reason, it had become out of date, and thus, required some makeover. For example, there was a need to change the technological, environmental, and structural aspects of Terminal 1 of the airport. Therefore, the refurbishment project was intended to improve the Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 by implementing an online change control system, developed custom software, as well as incorporating sustainable changes in lighting and heating.

Heathrow Terminal 1 Project Stakeholders

Identifying key stakeholders in any given project is important. According to Burke (2006), such a process gives the project manager an opportunity to understand the role of each stakeholder. On the other hand, Rose (2013) noted that effective analysis of the key stakeholders for any given project prepares the project manager early on how to deal with any anticipated challenges. In addition, such consideration is necessary as it provides the project team with the knowledge about the driving force and sponsors of the concerned project. The stakeholders play a significant role in ensuring that the objectives of the concerned project are achieved (Rose 2013). In the case of the refurbishment project of the Heathrow Airport Terminal 1, a significant number of stakeholders ensured that the entire project was successful. Some of the key stakeholders are highlighted below.

The key stakeholders for the Heathrow Airport Terminal 1 refurbishment project included the project manager and project team, BAA Airport Limited, Star Alliance, passengers, contractors, and suppliers. The refurbishment of the terminal was the responsibility of the BAA Airport Ltd. On the other hand, the Star Alliance network was required to move into Terminal 1 of the Heathrow Airport. As such, the Alliance facilitated the involvement of international passengers at Terminal 1 of the airport. The project manager in this case was David Buisson, who has more than 10 years of experience in effective management of complex, as well as challenging projects through the implementation of the required standards according to the Project Management Institute. On the other hand, the project team comprised of professionals with various project management backgrounds from the UK.

The management of the key stakeholders on the project faced a number of challenges. First, the project team was required to offer solutions to challenging situations in the course of the refurbishment. On the other hand, management of the project team was highly complex and challenging because the project was to be delivered on a tight schedule and in 42 different phases. Moreover, the refurbishment process was to be carried out while ensuring that the routine activities within the airport continued normally. In an event that the project was not managed effectively, it would have been hard to achieve the set goals implying that the project would be completed at a later date.

Secondly, the management of the team of suppliers was equally challenging since the project involved a large number of suppliers. As such, there was a need to adopt effective communication and time management approaches to ensure that every party carried out their tasks as required. In the event that such approaches were not adopted, severe consequences on the project’s schedule could have occurred. For this reason, effective planning was necessary to ensure that all parties were highly collaborative and responded to their tasks as expected.

On the other hand, the project was scheduled to go on alongside the normal operations of the airport. Such a requirement was highly challenging to the project team since a lot of consideration was to be given to the health and safety of passengers and any other stakeholders. This was achieved through effective, strict planning, and coordination of work based on the PMBOK framework (Rose 2013). Lack of such approach would have led to a lot of health and safety consequences, interruption of the terminal building’s operation, as well as associated delays especially for airlines that operated from Terminal 1.


Burke, R 2006, Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques, China: Burke Publishing.

Rose, K 2013, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)-Fifth Edition, Project Management Journal, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. e1-e1.

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