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Etihad Airways’ Passenger Self-Service Project


The most renowned value of the project management is its ability to achieve the strategic objectives without the disruption of the working process. It is especially important in the air transportation industry because the stable and secure course of ‘business as usual’ defines the quality of the service. The airlines and air transportation industry represent quite a specific environment for developing the new initiative and project management. A number of components need to be accounted for while developing a project, including comfort and safety of the customers and minimal interference with the working process.

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For Etihad Airways as one of the leading airline companies in the Middle East, it is important not only to preserve its status and quality but also to be innovative and to improve constantly in a busy market alongside its competitors. It is also important to point out the fact that the best option for improving the company’s position is combing advanced level of quality with a new customer appeal. Therefore, the project designed for Etihad Airways will represent the advancement in the customer service by improving the quality of the passenger self-service.

The project charter, scope, aims, and objectives

The project charter

The main service that will be introduced by the project is the system of passenger self-service for the customers of Etihad Airways. It became a part of the common practice for the airlines to guarantee the customers the access to the self-check-in kiosks at the airports. The main objective of such option is to make the passage through the airport easier for the customers, spare them waiting in queues (Sultan & Simpson 2000).

Moreover, there is room for improvement of such systems, and the project’s for Etihad Airlines objective is to use all the potential opportunities of the passenger self-service in order to make their travelling more comfortable. The two main directions of the project are, first of all, to add a number of the various options to the self check-in kiosks for the Etihad Airlines customers and, secondly, to design and develop the mobile application offering to the passengers the remote options of booking the flight, buying the tickets, and monitoring the updates of any kind.

In particular, the customers will have more access to control different aspects of their flights remotely without the need to obtain all the details from the workers of the airport and creating queues. The most significant innovative options are that the customers would be able to self-check-in, print their boarding passes, as well as the labels for their luggage and add their preferences concerning their seat on the plane and when buying their tickets. It will make the overall experience more pleasant (Bitner, Ostrom & Meuter 2002).

The target customers, for whom the advancements achieved by the project, would be most interesting should include the different social groups who are interested and used to using technology in their everyday life. In such a way, Etihad Airways will be able to make an appeal to the new target audiences of active people who value their time, and alongside that are potentially likely to spend more time travelling than most of the people. At the same time, if the marketing campaign for the project is calculated correctly, the regular customers of Etihad Airways will also benefit from the innovations of the new project.

The opportunity for the project implementation has a two-fold appeal. First of all, it is important to point out the fact that the use of mobile technology and application for solving the daily tasks is growing in popularity. In other words, the potential customers will not be intimidated by the innovation. In terms of the technology readiness, the target audience of Etihad Airways forms the opportunity in itself.

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There are a lot of ways of applying the mobile applications, but the technology that does not require human interaction and is mostly based on the self-service has not been largely applied in Etihad Airways’ marketplace and among its competitors. Therefore, the second aspect of the opportunity is that the customers not only have enough knowledge and experience to use self-service kiosks and mobile applications, but also need them because their lifestyle is faster and more dynamic (Liljander et al. 2006).

In terms of product categorization, the project will include two parts mentioned above. The first element is to incorporate the self-service kiosks for the customers of Etihad Airways to be able to check in automatically for a flight and to print their boarding passes and Q-tag labels for their luggage. The second element of the project is to design and develop the mobile application under the name of Etihad Airways. The application will allow customers to book, pay for, and monitor their journeys remotely in order to make the travelling experience more flexible and controllable.

The project aims, objectives and management planning

The main aim of the project is to allow the customers of Etihad Airways access to different kinds of self-service and remote management options. The first objective is to develop the platform for the mobile application and design it with a safe and comfortable, yet full of options interface. The second practical objective is to install the kiosks of the passenger self-service in the range of different major airports.

The definition of the project’s scope and cost management

In terms of the definition of the managerial project’s scope, it is important to list the actual activities that will be performed during the project. At the initiating stage, the project managers will conduct a survey among the regular customers concerning the issue of what services they lack most in terms of passenger self-service. After analyzing the collected data, the managers of the project together with the executives of Etihad Airways will define the measurable goals on the basis of the costs and benefits analysis.

For instance, given the costs of incorporating each of the proposed options of the self-service kiosks, they will define what the most beneficial and convenient way to provide such services is, how much kiosks need to be installed and where to locate them. Thus, the project management plan will include costs, tasks, deliverables, and schedule of the performance agreed with the executives.

The next part of the scope of the project management plan is the stage of execution when the parts of the project approved by the Etihad Airways executives will be brought into life. Alongside, the important component of verifying the scope is constant monitoring and controlling the execution of the project in terms of time management, quality management, and total quality management.

In terms of the time scale, it is important to identify the duration of all the stages of the project execution from the proportion, in which the duration of the entire project management is 100%. The following diagram represents the duration of the project management stages for the implementation of customer self-service for Etihad Airways in percents.

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The proportion of the stages of the project execution out of 100%
Figure 1: The proportion of the stages of the project execution out of 100%

It is important for the executing stage to be the longest in the process because the majority of the practical activities take place at this period. However, the monitoring stage, despite having the separate share of the time scope in the project, also includes the constant control over the stage of execution. Finally, the closing stage is a project phase at which the results of the project are estimated, and the effectiveness of the initiative is evaluated based on the operational feedback.

Overall, considering the scale of the project and the necessity to include the self-service systems at the international airports worldwide, the estimated time for the project initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing, will require no less than 12 months. The budget of the project will require two separate directions of the cost, which are the costs of developing and implementation of the mobile application, and the second one, which is more demanding in terms of cost.

Thus, to define the exact estimated costs, it is important to know the scale of the project. For the testing initial implementation of the 20 passenger self-service kiosks, with the producing and maintenance cost of each of them of $10,000 (Gundersen et al. 1974) only the operational budget of the group developing the self-service machines will be no less than $250,000. Adding to that the extra managerial costs, costs of the mobile application as well as airport fees and taxes, and the salary for the employees for 12 months, the determined budget should be no less than $1,000,000.

Stakeholders identification and communication management

Stakeholders identification

Correlation between two factors defining the stakeholders’ interest in the project for Etihad Airways.
Figure 2. Correlation between two factors defining the stakeholders’ interest in the project for Etihad Airways.

The major stakeholders in the project management for Etihad Airways are the airline company, the company’s main competitors, the regular customers of Etihad Airways, and the target customers to whom the company tries to create an appeal. In managing the project for Etihad Airways, there are two main aspects concerning how the stakeholders will receive the new approach presented by the project. They are technology readiness among all the stakeholders and the scope of the project coverage. The following figure represents the correlation between those factors.

The main benefit of the designed project for the company itself, as a stakeholder, is to occupy the new niche in the competitive market. The main objective, of course, is to make use of the technological advancements before the competitors do it. However, it is also important to point out the fact that the project leads Etihad Airways to the entirely new position on the international arena since joining the customer self-service kiosks and introducing the mobile application will help the airlines to engage customers from all over the world.

It also will appeal to the regular customers, who live dynamic lives and do not want to spend a lot of time queuing at the airports (Wang, Harris & Patterson 2012). The customers’ readiness, not only in the Middle East but also in the worldwide perspective, to use such technology is the prime opportunity for Etihad Airways to attract the new target market.

Communication management

The important aspect is to distribute information among the stakeholders. The customers should know in advance about the project, whereas the task of the project manager is also to take the information about the customers’ feedback to the senior executives (Bitner, Ostrom & Meuter 2002). In such a way, the manager can not only report the performance but also make the forecasts about the budget and about meeting the expectations of stakeholders.

Work Breakdown Structure

In case of the project management for Etihad Airways, the main work of the project team will be divided into two main areas. They would concern incorporating the customer self-service kiosks to the airports that do not have them, as well as introducing Etihad Airways to the self-check-ins all over the world, and developing the mobile application that would help with the passenger self-service and travel experience. However, the managerial work for both those operations would be conducted on the same scale and from the same centre. The following diagram shows the expectancy of the duration of all project stages in days and is followed by the detailed explanation of the planned activities.

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Minimal and maximal duration of the project stages (in days).
Figure 3. Minimal and maximal duration of the project stages (in days).

Particular tasks of the project managers during the initiating stage will include pitching the project to the Etihad Airways executives and conducting a survey among the regular customers of the company. The aim of it is to find out the passengers’ preferences, opinions on their flight experiences, as well as to define how they would like the mobile application to look like and how it would be more convenient to locate the passenger self-service machines.

The following WBS chart illustrates the distribution of the particular tasks at the different stages of the project.

Work Breakdown Structure Chart.
Firgure 4. Work Breakdown Structure Chart.

At the planning stage, the estimated budget will be approved and the time scale of the project will be divided amongst the managers of particular parts of the project. According to the integrated managerial plan, the budget, and other resources will be divided among the people responsible for a particular task.

At the executive stage, the managers will coordinate the work of two groups of people. The first one will develop the mobile application, and the managers are to control their budget, monitor their progress, and create test groups to receive customer feedback. In the other group, during the executing stage, the project managers are to contact the management of all the airports where the self-service systems are to be installed, to organize the work of the technical specialists who adopt and develop the system for Etihad Airways.

Finally, they are to ensure all the necessary performance and security tests of the machines before the final testing and the closing stage. The performance of the integrated change control will take place at the closing stage to ensure that all the changes that were incorporated in the project during the executing and monitoring are consistent.

Development and explanation of project life cycle and time management

The project life cycle

The life cycle of the project can be calculated from the distribution of time among the particular project stages and the exact activities of each of the stages. The following Gantt chart will represent the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary elements of the project in the average number of days required.

Life cycle chart of the project (in days)
Figure 5. Life cycle chart of the project (in days)

Thus, the initiating stage that will include pitching the project, conducting a customer survey and formulating the initial requirements, is expected to take 10% of the project time, i.e. 30 days. The next project phase is the planning stage.

At this point, the activities of analysis of the collected requirements, establishing the budget, planning the project scope, defining the time scales, and analyzing the potential risks take place. 20% of the overall time of the project is assigned for planning. It will take from 60 up 70 days because the managers will need to verify the scope by analyzing the technical details.

The expectations of the stakeholders collected from the customer survey and the meetings with executives will be compared to the technical opportunities within the budget and timescale. As a result, during this period, the project managers establish which technical activities will be included in the executing stage and which ones will not.

At the phase of the project execution, which is planned to take up to 45% of the Etihad Airways project’s time, the technical experts will perform the main activities. Meanwhile, the tasks of the managers, at this stage, are to create the environment, provide the integrity, and control the working process. It is the most time-consuming stage (Wang, Harris & Patterson 2012), and a lot of changes to the original plan are expected to be introduced. Therefore, this stage will take from 160 to 170 days.

The monitoring project stage will take up to 15% of the project time, not including the activities of the managers controlling the working process in the course of the executing stage. At this phase, the managers analyze the deviations from the original planning and verify the scope. The activities connected to the usability evaluation and security testing take place. It does not include the additional management process, such as managing project quality, time management, risk management, and the monitoring project communication. The controlling stage along will take 75 days.

Finally, the closing stage includes all the activities connected to the launch of the customer self-service kiosks and mobile application for self-service into the market. At this stage, the group of managers and technical specialists responsible for the mobile application will present it to the focus group and analyze the feedback, and the group that developed the passenger self-service for the customers of Etihad Airways will conduct final tests of the equipment security, safety, and convenience. This stage is estimated to take up to 30 days.

Time management of the project

Although the activities of the project life cycle were estimated in terms of what is the optimal amount of time required for their execution, the timescale of the project also includes the minimum and the maximum calculated duration of each of the stages. Such approach helps to adjust the time scale for all the risks.

Project management processes

Managing quality: the use of TQM

At the different stages of the project, in order to guarantee the quality of the provided service of product, which in the case of Etihad Airways, is passenger self-service options, the project managers need to plan quality, perform quality assurance, and control quality.

In the project for Etihad Airways, the two main aspects of total quality management (TQM) are adapting to the expectations and needs of the stakeholders, such as regular customers and potential customers and making sure that the two different groups of the project team work in an integrated manner. Total quality management is one of the means of dealing with the rapid and unexpected changes in the business environment (Anjard 1998).

In particular, it means that, at the different stages of the project, there may be some issues hindering the execution of the original plan. It this, total quality management is helpful in terms of bringing the quality up to the customers’ expectation within the scale of possible solutions, adapting to the changes and recalibrating the scope. However, it is also important to underline the fact that total quality management is based on the continuous feedback. It ensures that the feedback in the company is continuous between not only the management but also the employees themselves. Also, if the communication in the workplace is based on the shared responsibility and employees are interested in improving the quality of the products, the process of meeting the customer’s demand is much more well-organized.

Managing quality: the use of QA

The next aspect of managing quality is quality assurance (QA). The main aim of this project process is to avoid mistakes in the course of the executing stage of the project. For the managers of Etihad Airways project, the main quality control measurements, in terms of quality assurance will be checking the gradual developments of both groups designing mobile application and developing the self-services systems in order to make sure they are following the plan, which was draft to meet the customers’ expectations (Anjard 1998). The quality assurance will be executed after finishing each of the phases of designing mobile application and the customer self-service kiosks by means of the usability expert evaluation.

Managing quality: the use of QC

Quality control (QC) presupposes a number of assessments and tests in order to evaluate the achieved results of both groups. In the case of the project for Etihad Airways, the quality control will take place at the monitoring and closing stages of the project, when the group of managers and technical specialists responsible for the mobile application present it to the focus group and analyze the feedback.

Meanwhile, the group that developed the passenger self-service for the customers of Etihad Airways will perform a number of tests designed to evaluate the convenience and security standards of the new system in order to assure the quality. The quality control will be conducted at the executing, monitoring, and closing stages of the project by running the safety tests for the kiosks and security assessment and usability expert evaluation for both the kiosks and the mobile application.

Human resources management

The first stage of developing human resources plan is to define required resources for every activity. Thus, considering the estimated timeline of the project and the necessity to create two groups for two different tasks of the projects, the resources will be divided into two teams. The following organizational chart represents the detailed organizational structure of the project.

Organizational structure of the project.
Fugure 6. Organizational structure of the project.

The top manager of the project will require the assistant manager and two middle managers for each group. They will coordinate the work between two groups, and both of the middle managers are to have technical knowledge. The group developing the mobile application will include one manager, who is a technical specialist, IT specialist team of 4 people, and the graphic designer team of 3 people. The same graphic designer team will be involved in the work of the second group, who will be developing the customer self-service systems for Etihad Airways.

The second team will also include the top manager, 2 information security experts, 3 IT specialists, 2 application evaluation experts, and 1 technical engineer for constructing the exterior. Alongside both teams, the project requires short-run services of the PR specialist and the HR assistant. Whereas the rest of the teams will work throughout the project, they are both needed at the stage of planning for hiring the human resource and organizing focus groups of customers.

Business risks, project procurements, and conclusions

Possible risks

  1. There are a number of the possible risks concerning the duration of the different project activities and stages because of the relatively long timescale of the project.
  2. Also, there are some risks related to the possibility of Q-tag labels malfunctioning or some of the components of the project failing the security tests.

Risks mitigation, project procurements, and conclusions

  1. The basic risk management plan for the project is to conduct, consistently, the risk identifying activities, such as qualitative and quantitative risk analysis. The middle managers of each group are to create the risk registers for the situation if the risks are discovered further in the process than at the planning stage.
  2. The most of the risk responses, such as changing Q-tag labels for alternatives in case of them failing security test, will be predicted at the planning stage, but the updates will be the responsibility of the management.
  3. The registers will also assist in implementing the procurement plan, and administration of the procurement documents. As a part of the closing stage of the management project, all the results and documents and will be summed up together, and the managers of the project and Etihad Airways executives will make a conclusion about the project.

Reference List

Anjard, RP 1998, ‘Total Quality Management: Key Concepts’, Work Study, vol. 47, no. 7, pp. 238-247.

Bitner, MJ, Ostrom, A, & Meuter, ML 2002, ‘Implementing Successful Self-Service Technologies’, The Academy of Management Executive, vol. 16, no. 4, pp.96-108.

Gundersen, JL, Julian, RL, Kosco, TJ, Lewis, DE & Sklar, RE, Hughes Aircraft Company, 1974, Passenger Entertainment/Passenger Service and Self-Test System. U.S. Patent 3,795,771.

Liljander, V, Gillberg, F, Gummerus, J & Riel, A 2006, ‘Technology Readiness and the Evaluation and Adoption of Self-Service Technologies’, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, vol. 13, no. 3, pp.177-191.

Sultan, F & Simpson MC, 2000, ‘International Service Variants: Airline Passenger Expectations and Perceptions of Service Quality’, Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 14, no. 3, pp.188-216.

Wang, C, Harris, J & Patterson, PG, 2012, ‘Customer Choice of Self-Service Technology: the Roles of Situational Influences and Past Experience’, Journal of Service Management, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 54-78.

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