The aviation industry consists of numerous units and facilities, which are involved in the provision of unique services in the aviation sphere and have distinct management needs. There are companies that deal with fulfilling the projects related to design and construction of aircrafts, from the smallest private planes to large wide-bodied passenger airliners (Vieira, Rebaiaia, & Chain, 2016). Then, airports as an essential part of aviation industry implement numerous projects to satisfy demands of passengers, aviation operators, and airways companies (Vieira, Rebaiaia, & Chain, 2016). Finally, direct carriers of passengers, air cargo, national and international airlines and airways invest in the projects with the aim to provide customers with high quality services, particularly by introducing new passenger routes, establishing new services, conducting sustainable operational activity, etc. (Vieira, Rebaiaia, & Chain, 2016). Therefore, project management is an important issue to analyze and discuss nowadays, as it facilitates the improvement of operational activities of any aviation business, as well as provides a competitive advantage in the market.
Qatar Airways is the national airline of the State of Qatar, which has occupied a leading position within international airline industry due to its commitment to the highest standards of service and efficient project management. The aviation industry is one of the most indispensable parts of the modern world that is getting more global and competitive (Rodrigues & Lavorato, 2016). As a result, numerous aviation companies strive to improve their project management with the aim to establish competitive advantage in the market and provide clients with high quality services. The major goal of Qatar Airways project management is to use all technical and operational opportunities and improve the company's service and clients' experience on the board of their aircrafts (Qatar Airways, 2017b). Therefore, Qatar Airlines has a competitive advantage in the aviation market due to the efficient and progressive management of its strategic projects related to the provision of high quality services, application of modern technologies and investing in their further development, as well as expansion of its network.
Project Management of Qatar Airways
Project management of Qatar Airways is considered as a contributing factor to the establishment of its competitive advantage in the aviation industry. It mainly relies on the processes of prediction, planning, organization, and controlling activities and resources with the aim of completing projects successfully in spite of all possible challenges and risks.
Basic processes of Qatar Airways project management (Qatar Airways, 2016)
The initial process of prediction helps to identify certain spheres or issues in the business operational activity, which require improvement and modernization (Qatar Airways, 2016). Next, planning process is conducted by project managers, who plan, organize, and control the implementation of approved projects (Qatar Airways, 2016). Controlling of activities and resources in its turn is one of the major processes, because it is long lasting and must continue until the project is finished (Qatar Airways, 2016).
Qatar Airways has a professional team of project managers authorized to design and implement projects in order to facilitate company's activity and support its competitive advantage. The primary responsibility of a project manager in Qatar Airways is to design projects, apply all required financial and staff resources, and control implementation process (Qatar Airways, 2017b). In general, the major duties of project managers are schemed in the figure below.
Duties of project managers in Qatar Airways (Qatar Airways, 2017)
The success of project managers operation is usually evaluated in terms of achievement of the three primary objectives. They concern whether the project completion was realized within the cost budget; whether the project was delivered or handed over to the customer on time; whether performance was good so that all aspects of the project are finished in accordance with the project specification (Qatar Airways, 2017b). Scientists identify four major projects that dominate in the aviation industry, including civil engineering and construction, improvement of operational activity, IT projects, and projects for pure scientific researches (Vieira, Rebaiaia, & Chain, 2016). Qatar Airways mainly practices implementation of projects aimed at enhancing its service delivery, operational activity, and IT systems.
Provision of High Quality Services
One of the company's major values is customer first (Qatar Airways, 2017b, p. 8). Therefore, Qatar Airways strives to create an exceptional experience for its customers and leave them with wonderful memories. The majority of company's projects are customer centric, particularly focused on meeting customers' constantly increasing needs and expectations (Qatar Airways, 2017a). For example, in the recent years, the following customer-centric management projects of Qatar Airways were implemented: modernization of fuel-efficient fleet and control of on-time departures (Qatar Airways Group, 2017). The company's senior managers try to initiate and organize numerous meetings in order to establish working teams of project managers and authorize them to design projects, plan their implementation, and control all stages of projects fulfillment (Qatar Airways Group, 2017).
As mentioned above, Qatar Airways implemented a successful project aimed at providing modern and fuel-efficient fleet five years ago, including the most technologically advanced and modern aircrafts (Qatar Airways, 2017a). Specifically, the company has changed its previous generation aircraft to modern Airbuses and Boeings, which are to be 20-25% more fuel-efficient (Qatar Airways, 2017a). In addition, the provision of a Sharklet wingtip device to an A320 saved each aircraft up to 900 tons of fuel per aircraft (Qatar Airways, 2017a). Furthermore, the company modernized its fleet and equipped it with the newly generated cooling and combustion technologies aimed at improving efficiency of engines as well as decreasing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption (Qatar Airways, 2017a). The company also plans to implement the project of the B787 GE Performance Improvement Package, which will help to reduce fuel usage by 2,7% (Qatar Airways, 2017a). Therefore, the above-mentioned Qatar Airways project helped to equip the company's aircrafts with the most modern and fuel-efficient engines, making the fleet more safe, fast, and sustainable.
The second successful project of the company was aimed at the provision of on-time departures. Thus, project managers of Qatar Airways were authorized to incorporate a new fleet management system called Total OPerations System (TOPS) (Qatar Airways, n.d.). TOPS provided unique opportunities for aviation companies to manage flights efficiently and improve schedules of aircrafts (Qatar Airways, n.d.). In addition, the project facilitated the collection of data from different sources and the provision of an integral view into the airline's operation in order to predict and notify operation staff of any potential challenges as well as suggest solution options (Qatar Airways, n.d.). Furthermore, due to the projects implementation, Qatar Airways can conduct specific tasks by means of assignment optimizer, which provides an opportunity for operational staff to assign aircrafts specific lines of flying, taking into consideration major operational needs of the route and specific aircrafts features and characteristics (Qatar Airways, n.d.). Finally, the project predicted the provision of Flight Watches for the company's employees, who are directly involved in the major operational activities. Flight Watch is a unique, highly technological, and advanced invention that can accumulate important information, flight data, and tasks, track it and distribute (Qatar Airways, n.d.). Therefore, the establishment of Total OPerations System in the company's existing operation system helped Qatar Airways to improve its operational activity, communication between the staff, and enhance the quality of the service.
Application of Modern Technologies
It should be mentioned that Qatar Airways implemented a unique project related to the establishment of live with a state-of-the-art documentation management system (Arconics, 2016). The goal of the company's project was to implement AeroDocs software created by ViaSat company, which gives the company an opportunity to share information with employees in real-time (Arconics, 2016). The management team was engaged in the project implementation and included IT managers, managers of the major operation activity, and project managers (Arconics, 2016). As a result, this innovation helped Qatar Airways to create, edit, and mark all changes related to the operational activity in a visible manner with the help of internet technologies (Arconics, 2016). In addition, AeroDocs software provided a single centralized repository to track, analyze, and update all operational and non-operational company documentation and manuals for operational readiness (Arconics, 2016).
Furthermore, the project helped to address safety and security issues of the company since Qatar Airways got an opportunity to organize documentation management under a centralized corporate scheme of document hierarchy (Qatar Airways, 2017a). In addition, the implemented project provided the mechanisms appropriate for establishing a routine regulatory compliance program (Qatar Airways, 2017a). Therefore, the company's laptops, web browsers, and electronic flight bags are simultaneously synchronized, and the staff have access to the documents that are being constantly updated. Finally, the project stipulated integration of AeroDocs into the existing Qatar Airways systems with the aim of ensuring information accuracy and minimizing the operational overhead (Qatar Airways, 2017a). Therefore, the project ensured efficiency of distribution and organization of information and document flow in the company, as well as provided Qatar Airways managers and executives with an opportunity to observe operational processes in a real-time visibility (Arconics, 2016).
The expansion of the company's routes is another strategic project that helps Qatar Airways to maintain its competitive advantage in the national market. The majority of companies involved in the aviation sphere strive to expand their activity and presence in both emerging and already existing markets (Qatar Airways, 2017b). According to Qatar Airways investigations and observations, the largest-growth markets in the aviation industry are Africa, India, South America, and China (Qatar Airways, 2017b). Qatar Airways remains deeply committed to its growth strategy every year and improves its activity and facilities so as to be competitive in the international market (Qatar Airways, 2017b). Thus, the organization set a strategic project last year aimed at introducing new destinations and further expansion of its network, particularly to Africa and America.
In 2016, the company opened 13 new destinations and expanded its existing routes (Qatar Airways Group, 2017). According to the annual report of Qatar Airways, during the operational year of 2016, the company managed to expand its routes to more than 150 destinations in the Middle East and Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and America (Qatar Airways Group, 2017). Specifically, the new destinations were Amsterdam, Abha, Birmingham, Faisalabad, Boston, Multan, Durban, Los Angeles, Nagpur, Ras Al Khaimah, Sydney, Sialkot, and Zanzibar (Qatar Airways, 2017b, p. 10). In addition, the company scheduled daily flights to the profitable destinations such as Los Angeles and Sydney, increased its connectivity to the United Kingdom, and scheduled 73 weekly flights during 2016 (Qatar Airways Group, 2017). Finally, Qatar Airways intents to launch its service to 17 new destinations by the end of 2017 (Qatar Airways, 2017b). The company's projects of expanding network relies on the detailed analysis of routes that may bring profits to the company and provide demanded services for more people around the world. Therefore, the expansion of Qatar Airways network and the introduction of new routes require thorough analytical work of project managers.
Project management has become an integral part of any organization involved in the aviation industry, as it facilitates the establishment of companies' competitive advantage in the market. In addition, customers' needs and expectations are constantly increasing nowadays. Therefore, the aviation business has to improve its activity with the aim of always being in demand. The principal characteristic of project management in the aviation industry is its novelty. It is a step into the unknown, fraught with certain risks and challenges. However, in most cases, project management facilitates involvement of more customers and increases profits. As mentioned above, scientists identify the four major projects that dominate in the aviation industry, including civil engineering and construction, incentives for improvement of operational activity, IT projects, and scientific researches. This paper an analysis of Qatar Airways' projects aimed at improving operational activity, upgrading IT systems, and expanding its network.
Thus, the typical life cycle of project management within Qatar Airways consists of prediction, planning, organization, and controlling activities and resources. The company has a professional team of project managers, who are responsible to achieve three major goals, including project completion within the cost budget; the project delivery to the customer on time; good performance, which requires that all aspects of the project are finished in accordance with the project specification. In recent years, the company has implemented numerous successful projects, which help to improve its operation. However, the most efficient are modernization of fleet by providing modern and fuel-efficient engines of the most technologically advanced aircrafts, incorporation of Total OPerations System, establishment of AeroDocs software from Arconics, and the projects focused on expansion of its network strategically.
The analyzed projects of Qatar Airways can be considered successful and efficient. In fact, the company changed its previous generation aircrafts to modern Airbuses and Boeings, which are to be 20-25% more fuel-efficient. In addition, its on-time departure performance was recorded 90,5% in 2016, which is one of the best indexes reported in the aviation industry worldwide. Furthermore, Qatar Airways improved its operational activity and communication with the staff by means of AeroDocs software, which also helped to organize documentation management under a centralized corporate scheme of document hierarchy. Finally, the company expanded its activity to several strategic destinations including America and Africa, and introduced new routes, which increased the number of customers as well as profits.
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Qatar Airways has a successful and unique experience in managing its project with the aim of providing its customers with high quality services. The company managed to occupy a leading position in the national market, because its strategic and operational activity is customer centered. Qatar Airways executives state that each project designed and implemented within the company is a unique opportunity to make a valuable and enriching influence on customers as well as improve the overall company's activity. According to Qatar Airways' annual report for 2016, the organization earned QAR 3 billion operating profit on revenues of QAR 35,6 billion with an operating margin of 8,6% (Qatar Airways, 2017b, p. 10). These figures prove the Qatar Airways is popular among customers, who are in most cases returning to use its services again. Furthermore, the company was awarded in 2015 with the nomination of Worlds Best Airline on the base of customer surveys results conducted by Skytrax. Consequently, Qatar Airways is acknowledged in the aviation industry as a profitable and technologically advanced company, which provides the best service worldwide. In most cases, the efficient project management stipulates this status of the company and its leading position in the market.