What was the challenge?
British Airways (BA) saw an opportunity to expand its network at Heathrow when Lufthansa decided to sell loss-making airline, bmi. With bmi losing £3 million a week, BA had about 8 months to complete the largest airline integration in UK aviation history.
British Airways asked us to work with them to manage the entire integration programme. The challenge was to integrate the two airlines and close BMI’s operating business – in just 256 days.
The programme was complex and needed tight coordination, effective governance, and robust controls. Which is why BA asked us to help by setting up an Enterprise Programme Management Office (PMO).
How did we help?
We integrated into the BA-led team, bringing strong programme management capability to complement their in-house technical expertise. We set up a small central ‘hub’ to define and manage the programme controls (including governance and information flows). The programme coordinators were a crucial link between the central ‘hub’ and the programme workstreams. We worked with our BA counterparts to develop workstream management products, while transferring knowledge and PMO skills.
The central hub was a ‘single point of truth’ and provided certainty of dates, progress and position against the business case. The team achieved this by identifying key metrics, and reporting against them in an integrated plan and performance dashboard.
We focused on ’keeping the main thing, the main thing’. This focus ensured the PMO acted as an enabler rather than a blocker.
What was the impact?
The success of the integration enabled BA to achieve its strategic aim to expand its network at Heathrow. Measurable benefits included: the transfer of 25 aircraft to BA; the conversion of 21 routes to BA operations; transfer and on-boarding of 1,395 people; termination or transfer of 972 contracts; and the closure of 12 former bmi operations.
Besides the quantitative benefits, this programme is held up as BA’s flagship in programme delivery approach. Our work contributed to improving the client’s internal programme management capability.
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