Operations and Supply Chain Management


Operation performance is crucial in the management of any business. There are five categories of an organization’s stakeholders that take a keen interest in its operations. These are the customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees and the general society. This essay discusses how British Airways achieves the general performance objectives. These objectives are speed, flexibility, quality, dependability and cost minimisation. It also outlines how the organisation applies modern techniques to support these objectives in its operations management. The paper also suggests recommendations of how the company can apply these techniques effectively.


Performance objectives are aspects of an organisation’s performance, by which one can judge the function of its operation. These objectives are crucial since they influence the operations strategies of the business. British Airways is a perfect example of a company that emphasises on these objectives for effective performance. The business is an airline company based in the United Kingdom that carries the country’s flag. Its headquarters are in Waterside close to London Heathrow Airport which is the main hub of the airline. It is the first in size UK based airline both in international flights, number of international destinations and fleet size. The operations management department plays a key role in the organisations and has a great impact on the five categories of stakeholders.


Quality is the most important objective in any company’s performance evaluation and service provision. Internally, quality is the conformity of a product or service to its specifications and market expectations. In the internal operations of the company, quality determines achievement of all the other objectives. An organisation can only achieve good quality products and services if it minimises both the occurrence and repetition of mistakes in its activities. This way, the company minimises costs, increases dependability and speed of response. With fewer mistakes on the employees’ side, the company can meet the customers’ requests successfully. Externally, quality is the customer’s perception of the products and services. Customers or consumers determine the quality by the number of complaints after consumption. If the customers find nothing to complain about, then the company presumes that it offer the quality product or service. The customers are also likely to consume these products and services again. The revenue and profits increase for the company in case it is a profit-making organisation (Campbell-Smith 1986).

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The British Airways Company puts a great emphasis on the quality of its services both internally and externally. Its employees are members of different unions which represent their welfare to the company’s management. The British Airline Pilots’ Association, British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association and other  union branches represent the employees. With employee satisfaction, the company ensures effective workforce management to avoid mistakes. Its human resources department hires personnel with outstanding qualifications to ensure effective service provision. The organisation also maintains high levels of consumer safety and security. It reports low levels of customer insecurity and minimal number of accidents. In matters of security and safety, the organisations can apply modern technology to improve the quality of services (Nigel, Chambers & Johnston 2001). For example, it can increase the use of next generation club world seats. The company can also employ new makes of airbuses from other companies with more capacity and increased consumer comfort. These enable virtual connecting and use of social media on board of the plane.

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Speed measures the time difference between the request of a service or a product to the delivery. Speed also affects the company both internally and externally. External speed refers to how quick the company can respond to customers’ requests. The customers tend to return to the business due to the fact that they view the response speed positively. With high response speed, the company can also charge higher prices to consumers, since they do not have to wait for service delivery. British Airways Company takes advantage of speed to deliver highly perishable goods and mail all over the world. They charge more to deliver fresh produce both internally and externally. These include flowers and horticultural products. It also charges more for faster courier services. External speed involves how fast the company can process ticket bookings and respond to customers’ complaints. The company can use modern technology to improve external speed. This is done by the introduction of the latest faster models of planes. They can also set up a faster portal for online booking of tickets and posting of customer complaints (Penrose 1980).

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Internal speed is important in the reduction of operation costs. Internal speed can reduce costs by decreasing risks and inventories. The flow of information in the company should also be faster to lower the time used in service delivery. In the airline industry, internal speed means the time used to process passengers before they board planes. The faster the processing time, the less the aircraft turn-around time, and therefore effective resource utilisation. Job specialisation for the employees and departmentalisation influences internal speed. British Airways runs different departments to handle various aspects of service delivery. To improve internal speed, the company can employ modern technology trends. These include contemporary airport security installations (Ernest 1967). It can also adopt modern internal communication systems such as creating improved internal computer networking and pager systems. Moreover, it can introduce the use of modern communication satellites which ensure faster relaying of messages.


Dependability means that consumers can receive products and services on time. It is always difficult to determine the exact meaning of on time delivery. It is also hard to determine when the customers really require the service or product. These measures fully depend on the nature of the business. Additionally, dependability involves the time of customers’ expected delivery of the services or products. In the airline industry, dependability is when the customers are promised service delivery. This is in terms of departure time of planes and the time for delivery for the courier and mail services. Dependability involves the alterations the airline might make in case there is a delivery delay. This concept also involves making certain arrangements for people with special needs or requirements. For example, the airline must make appropriate considerations for people in wheelchairs and the deaf during air travel (Greasley 2008).

Externally, customers have a high regard for dependability. The clients do not appreciate any delay with delivery of goods and services. The suppliers, distributors and contractors observe the dependability of a company to determine renewal of contracts. The achievement of this performance objective also relies on speed and quality of products and service delivery. British Airways consider the importance of dependability. It sets time limits for the flights for both arrivals and departures in every destination (Corke 1986). They also report delays in media such as radios and televisions and announce the new time limits. Moreover, they announce in the airports some time before the planes depart or arrive for the customers’ convenience.

In regard to ensuring dependability, the company can also employ modern technology. They can set up a mobile phone service that alerts customers when there are delays by short messages. The company can also include special flight attendants for the sake of people with disabilities. Internally, dependability affects the overall production costs. This aspect increases stability of an organisation in the market, which is crucial in improvement of its efficiencies. Saving time also conserves money for the company. The aspect of dependability also involves consumer safety and security. The airline has developed proper security interventions to help in maintaining consumer safety.

The airline has very few cases of accidents, crash-landing and hijacking incidents. The last case was in January 2008 when a plane crash-landed just three hundred meters from Heathrow Airport. This was a case of ice formation in the Rolls-Royce engine from the Boeing Company. Other incidents that the company has reported were as early as 1990, the 70s and 80s with a few cases of hijacking and accidents. Therefore, it is evident that the company has put in place measures to ensure consumer safety and security over time. However, there is a potential for improvement. It can use modern engine upgrades to enhance safety and speed. The company can also include modern security surveillance technology to ensure customer safety. In this way, the dependability of the company will increase (Heizer, Jay & Render 2001).


Flexibility is the ability of the organisation to change its operations to suit the current situation. Flexibility involves different aspects of volume, delivery, mix, product and service. Different types of flexibility have various effects on the operations of the organisation. In the airline industry, flexibility is very important since it allows the company to make relevant changes to suit seasons. Externally, flexibility involves altering the operations to suit the customers’ needs at the specific time. Mix flexibility means availing a large variety of goods and services for various customer categories. Service flexibility is coming up with new ideas with the aim of attracting more customers. Volume flexibility is also important in the airline industry. The airline must adjust the capacity of the aircrafts to each destination according to the seasons. Different festivals, sports activities and business meetings in the world change the destinations of customers each season (Greasley 2008).

In the internal aspect, flexibility speeds up the response time. This helps to save time and money and enhances dependability. It also increases the coping success with price and customer fluctuations every season. Additionally, the employees exhibit innovation as the personnel becomes more creative in response to consumer needs. British airline shows high levels of flexibility. During the World Cup games in South Africa and London Olympic Games, the airline added the number of flights to these destinations at lower costs. Flexibility is exemplified by British Airways also by special flights during some events such as the Valentine’s Day and religious pilgrimage. Moreover, the company has established different cabins for the long haul, mid haul and short haul. In the long haul, the airline provides the first class, business class and the economy class options depending on the customer’s requirements and economic positions (Gregory 1996). It also has different seating policies which vary in each cabin. The airline is yet to establish cabins with application of improved technology both in communication and on-board entertainment. These include mass globetrotting, long haul-low cost, transumers among other technology-driven trends to attract more customers.

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The four main objectives of operation performance are dedicated to cost reduction. The main aim of any organisation is to reduce costs and increase revenue, which leads to increment in profits. Each company varies the cost strategies to suit its business goals and objectives. Therefore, the cost structure of each organization varies according to the type of business. The concepts of high flexibility, high dependability, high speed and high quality require proper management in order to bring effective reduction of costs. The company must infuse faster response to customers, on-time deliveries, error-free products and services, wider variety of offers, more innovation and customisation together with product fluctuations to determine the lowest possible prices. This leads to more customers which in turn causes increase in revenues, and hence profits (Keith 1983).

British Airways have been overly successful in reducing operation costs as well as providing good services to its customers all over the world. To operate effectively, the airline has focused fully on the financial markets which have maximum travellers and lower costs. This is because the business community does not emphasise much on the pleasantries the airline has to offer, but rather on dependability in terms of time, security and destinations. Operations in the leisure markets often lead to more operation costs, since the planes must emphasise the high levels of entertainment and customer comfort. The airline also has its shares trading in stock markets to increase the operation capital. It also has put in place measures to take care of industrial relations to ensure staff satisfaction (Marriott 1998). This greatly reduces the costs arising from staff dissatisfaction such as strikes and go-slows. Technology is very important in reduction of operating costs. The airline should use modern technology which is faster and more efficient than the older ones. This includes the latest planes, computer hardware and software and communication satellites and devices.

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British Airways today is the largest operator of Boeing Airbuses in the world. It therefore serves millions of customers around the globe. For this reason, the organisation must achieve all the operations performance objectives for effective service provision. This is also due to the fact that the company must struggle to defeat its key rivals in the airline industry, which are Easy-jet and Virgin Atlantic. Based on the essay, it is evident that the company has really achieved the general operations performance objectives. However, it can still perform more effectively with the application of modern technology in its operations. This way, British Airways will go back to being the leading airline not only in the United Kingdom and Europe at large.



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