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A Proposal to Reform the Economy Class of an Airline


The contemporary airline industry is characterized by a number of challenges. In most cases, the problems emerge from customer complaints and poor service delivery on the part of the companies and their employees. In the current proposal, the author addresses some of the most common complaints affecting a modern-day airline. According to Webb (2003, p. 19), project management plays a crucial role in identifying the challenges facing a company. In addition, it helps managers to come up with possible solutions to these problems. In this regard, the proposal identifies the challenges facing the airline company and provides a road map for viable solutions.

Passengers using the economy class of the airline have made numerous complaints. Some of the issues raised touch on the quality of meals, service routines, and an overall need to improve existing customer relations. In light of this, the proposal provides strategies that the airline company can use to overcome these challenges. Webb (2003, p. 21) argues that the principles of project management are meant to provide structured solutions to the problems faced by an organization. In this regard, the proposal recommends a redesign of the meals and service routines in the airline.

The recommendations contained in this proposal are meant to bring about the much-needed reforms in the airline’s economy class. For instance, recommendations will be made to review the food items served to passengers in the economy class. Other proposals will see a review and redesigning of all the hospitality-related services, such as the toilets. According to Lock (2003, p. 56), the success of projects of this nature depends on the ability of those responsible for implementation to make use of the available budget and other resources. In this regard, the proposal illustrates a schematic approach as to how the $30 million budget will be utilized.

The proposal comprises four main sections. The first section illustrates the statement of the problem. To this end, the project’s concept, scope, and objectives are outlined. According to Lock (2003, p. 86), the initial phase of a proposal of this nature should illustrate how the problem statement will be solved with the help of the specific tools and techniques of project management. The second phase is the appraisal of the proposed strategy with respect to the organisational structure. Thirdly, the report will outline the necessary recommendations meant to ensure that the project succeeds. Finally, a risk analysis and risk register are provided to highlight the possible hindrances to the success of the project.

Statement of the Problem

The aviation industry provides transport and hospitality services to a wide range of consumers. The airline’s inability to provide efficient and quality services to its economy class passengers is the problem that will be addressed in this proposal.

Project Charter


The proposal is aimed at improving service delivery in the economy class. According to a study carried out by Holloway (2003), the performance of an airline is dependent on repeat consumers. In this regard, the proposal will provide a rationale on how to improve the quality of services delivered to consumers in the economy class. The aim is to ensure that the customers are satisfied enough to seek the services of the airline in future. Figure 1 is an illustration of the specific objectives of this proposal:

Specific objectives of the proposal
Figure 1: Specific objectives of the proposal

Figure 1 outlines the three specific objectives of this report. A redesigning of the meal set up will result in modifications of the quality and consistency of food services provided to economy class consumers. In this regard, a professional workforce will be required (Chang & Shao 2011, p. 10397). The proposal will also outline strategies that can be used to enhance the efficiency of the products. One strategy entails adopting emergent trends related to airline hospitality. Finally, the overall quality of service will be measured against standards in the industry. To this end, a quality assurance mechanism will be highlighted to provide the measures that need to be taken to bring about success of the entire proposal.

Work Breakdown Structure

The work breakdown structure is divided into two main categories. The first category outlines the steps involved in designing a fresh hospitality package for the economy class passengers. The second category involves the human resource strategy that needs to be adopted. Figure 2 illustrates the work breakdown structure for the proposed project:

Work breakdown structure
Figure 2: Work breakdown structure

The objectives outlined in figure 1 will be realised when specific measures aimed at bringing about change in the quality of service are put in place. According to Weidenhammer (2004, p. 406), a work breakdown structure is meant to illustrate the deliverables related to a project. The deliverables are the avenues through which the various solutions to the problem statement are provided. In light of this, the in-flight hospitality package will undergo a number of changes. As illustrated in figure 2, a new meal plan and schedule of service delivery will be adopted. In addition, other services, such as those involving onboard toilets, will be upgrade. The changes in the hospitality package will be supplemented by a competent workforce. In light of this, figure 2 outlines the three phases involved in reforming the airline’s human resource.

Project Milestones

The project is expected to be implemented within a period of 1 year. In this regard, the double-pronged approach in figure two will be implemented in quarters. According to Webb (2003, p. 76), a Gantt chart is one of the tools used in project management to provide the roadmap needed to realise the objectives of a given proposal. In light of this, table 1 provides the timeline to be followed in implementing the project:

Table 1: Gantt chart for the project’s milestones

Timeline Deliverables
1st March, 2015 – 31stMay, 2015
  • Comparative analysis of hospitality trends.
  • Development of a hospitality package.
  • Estimation of the number of employees required in the new framework to be adopted.
  • Appraisal of existing performance
  • Stakeholders’ approval of proposed reforms.
1stJune, 2015 – 30thAugust, 2015
  • Adoption of the new hospitality package as company policy.
  • Recruitment of new personnel.
  • Acquisition of additional hospitality equipment.
1stSeptember, 2015 – 31stNovember, 2015
  • Training of all personnel (old and new) on new hospitality measures.
  • Redesigning of the sitting arrangement in the economy class.
  • Launch of the new hospitality measures.
1stDecember, 2015 – 29thFebruary, 2016
  • Application of control measures to realise the success of the project.

Table 1 outlines the four phases related to the implementation of the project. According to Lock (2003, p. 66), Gantt charts help project managers to evaluate the implementation process of a given project. In this regard, the quarterly system will be used to distribute the deliverables of the project over the proposed one year implementation period. Table 1 illustrates that the deliverables are realised on a quarterly period right from the product development to the control measures.

Human Resource Management

The various shortcomings associated with the delivery of a particular service emerge due to corresponding challenges evident in the human resource department. The study by Chang and Shao (2011, p. 10407) found that a restructuring of the organisational framework is one of the strategies that can be used by managers to address the challenges facing the company’s human resource element. Figure 3 below is an illustration of the proposed organisational structure for the airline’s human resource department:

 Proposed organisational structure for the airline
Figure 3: Proposed organisational structure for the airline

Previously, the airline’s HR department was basically designed with respect to financial and operational aspects of the organisation. However, the challenges outlined in the problem statement require innovativeness. In this regard, figure 3 outlines a two-tier organisational structure for the airline’s new HR department. The top tier consists of a human resource manager. The administrator will be recruited afresh. The second tier comprises of two human resource managers responsible for training and operations.

The HRM in charge of training and continuous innovation will be responsible for the recruitment and training of the employees needed to actualise the plan. According to Holloway (2003, p. 17), major airlines like Etihad and Emirates recruit dedicated human resource managers whose sole purpose is the development of new products to address the emerging needs and demands in the market. In light of this, the additional departments in the human resource department will enable the airline to improve the value of its workforce. The objective will be realised through specialisation. The proposed organisational structure will help in developing better packages for the various categories of consumers.

Communication Plan

As previously mentioned, the proposal outlines a new package for the economy class passengers. According to Webb (2003, p. 113), an effective communication plan acts as a project management tool. To this end, it is used to inform consumers of the changes made to a given product. In this regard, the communication plan is meant to answer the following questions with regards to the changes in the services offered by the airline:

  1. Who is being communicated to?
  2. How is the information being communicated?
  3. When will the information be communicated?
  4. What exactly will be communicated?

Figure 5 is an illustration of the proposed communication plan to answer the four questions above:

Communication plan
Figure 5: Communication plan

Figure 5 outlines the demographics of the target audience for the communication plan. Webb (2003, p. 23) points out that a communication plan must bring on board all the stakeholders. To this end, the shareholders of the airline, as well as existing employees, will be informed of the proposed changes. Similarly, the existing market group will also be provided with the necessary information touching on the changes in the economy class. However, it is important to note that the major focus group is the new market targeted in the proposed adjustments. Lock (2003, p. 51) argues that a communication plan must be executed in a manner that ensures that it reaches as many people as possible. In light of this, social media and promotional marketing will be used in this campaign to spread the message to existing and emergent consumers. However, an internal memo will also be used in relaying the information to the shareholders of the company.

An effective communication plan is one that continuously illustrates the proposed changes. In this regard, the duration of the plan is expected to last between Q2 and Q3. It will consistently inform the stakeholders of the necessary changes and the value of the proposed hospitality framework. To this end, the plan will outline the requisite financial details. The communication strategy will contain the information indicated below with regards to the contents of the proposed policy change:

  1. Increased portions of the meals.
  2. Increased frequency of service.
  3. Adoption of internationally accepted standards of quality assurance.

Identification and Analysis of Stakeholders

There are various stakeholders associated with the proposal. They include the consumers, shareholders, and industry regulators. A study carried out by Terry (2002, p. 186) found that the development of new proposals aimed at addressing challenges in an organisation must reflect the needs and requirements of key business areas. Terry (2002, p 186) also points out that a stakeholder analysis is needed to outline the companies that will be affected by the policy changes. In light of this, the analysis recommended for this plan will help the managers to evaluate the impacts of the changes in in-flight service on related organisations. The analysis will also provide information on how the performance of the proposals is evaluated. The earned value analysis will also be carried out.

Affected Business Areas

The affected business areas include logistics, procurement, and human resource. As previously mentioned, the quantity of meal portions is expected to change. Similarly, the planes will require a redesigning of the toilet facilities. In this regard, Webb (2003, p. 71) refers to the development of an ideal budget that will reflect the necessary changes. As such, additional funding will be required to realise the new procurement and logistics systems. With respect to human resources, there is need to hire a more competent cabin crew. In line with this, the three business areas will receive the necessary funding. In addition, an evaluation of their performance will be introduced as illustrated in figure 2.

Impacts of the Project on the Business Areas

The challenges presented by poor sanitation on board imply that the procurement department is not availing the necessary equipment to support a clean environment in the toilets. In light of this, the proposals in this project will result in corresponding changes to this arm of the organisation. The organisational structure reflected in this proposal establishes a second branch of HR. The introduction of the HR sub-department will result in improved internal communication. Consequently, the proposals will help in improving the performance of the affected departments.

Earned Value Analysis

The earned value analysis is carried out based on three main parameters. According to Terry (2002, p. 187), there should be a projection of the earned value with respect to the planned value and the actual cost. As already indicated in this paper, the proposed budget is $30 million. Figure 6 is a graphical representation of the earned value analysis:

Earned value analysis
Figure 6: Earned value analysis

The earned value analysis in figure 6 indicates that the company stands to benefit from the plan with respect to projected earnings. An improved service system delivery is likely to contribute towards a corresponding increase in the number of passengers in the company. According to Holloway (2003, p. 48), the success of the airline industry is dependent on the quality of service delivered. In this regard, the changes in meals and sanitary elements are expected to attract more consumers.

The earned value is realised when the actual cost is lower than the planned value. According to Webb (2003, p. 111), an exponential growth of the earned value is realised when there is a corresponding decrease in the planned value. Figure 6 outlines a similar pattern with respect to the airline. The exponential decline is realised by a communication plan that seeks to increase the number of passengers every quarter. The exponential increase in the number of passengers can be attributed to the promotional campaign proposed in the communication plan.

The proposal seeks to utilise the $30 million set aside. However, since a higher earned value is realised, the company should ensure that the planned value is always higher than the actual value. Such a move will ensure that the company’s value expectations are kept low (Webb 2003, p. 111). The earned value in this case is dependent on the efficiency of the communication campaign and estimation of the planned value.

Analysis of the Project’s Background

In the introduction section, it was mentioned that the airline is riddled with recurrent passenger complaints with respect to the quality of services provided. Passengers using the economy class of the airline made complaints regarding the meals and service routines. The proposal has illustrated that the company is in dire need of an overall improvement of the customer relations element. In this regard, the proposal provides possible solutions to the airline through an exponential increase in the number of passengers using the communications plan identified. Webb (2003, p. 21) argues that the principles of project management are meant to provide structured solutions to the problems faced by an organisation. In light of this, the proposal redesigned meals and related schedules. The move is seen as the basis upon which the earned value is realised.

Project management has a total of seven quality tools. The tools are used in assessing the identified problems. Lock (2003, p. 99) points out that the best way to evaluate the proposals in such a project is to rely on the needs analysis. The analysis indicates whether or not a proposal has responded to the needs raised in the problem statement. Table 2 is an illustration of the needs analysis with respect to the current proposal:

Table 2: Needs analysis

Fresh design of meal plans Increased portions and frequency of service are met in the new plan
Product efficiency The new meal designs add value to the travel experience in the economy class
Quality of service Improved product efficiency corresponds with improved quality of service

The changes outlined in table 1 are representative of the reforms sought after in this proposal. In light of this, there is a need to establish whether the objectives outlined have been met or not. The communication plan reveals that a new design of the meal plans was adopted from leading players in the airline industry. Consequently, the main challenges of improved efficiency and quality of services will be manipulated to enhance the airline. In this regard, the needs analysis reveals that the proposed plan addresses all the problems mentioned in the introduction.

Risk Assessment

The efficiency of proposed changes in any given organisation is dependent on how the company can overcome the associated risks. With respect to the current problem, the following are some of the risks identified in the study:

  1. Fluctuations in international currency.
  2. High cost of human resource recruitment.
  3. High cost of developing a new meal plan for the economy class.

The risks are significantly affecting the financial standing of the company. According to Lock (2003, p. 77), the development of a new operational framework for a company is realised when a proper assessment is made with respect to changes in the financial market. In light of this, higher estimates were provided with respect to the planned value. Consequently, the high cost impediments were resolved since the actual cost was kept lower than the planned value.


The proposal outlines the need for high quality service delivery systems in the airline industry as the main reason behind improved performance. The report illustrated that increased portions of meals and frequency of distribution are essential in achieving consumer satisfaction in the economy class. To this end, similar problems should be tackled by developing a communication plan that can exponentially increase the consumers of a given brand. However, further research is needed to establish unique measures of overcoming high costs in the airline sector.


Chang, Y & Shao, P 2011, ‘Operating cost control strategies for airlines’, African Journal of Business Management, vol. 5 no. 26, pp. 10396-10409.

Holloway, S 2003, Straight and level: practical airline economics, Ashgate, Aldershot.

Lock, D 2003, Project management, Gower Publishing, Wales.

Terry, C 2002, ‘The real success factors on projects’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 20 no. 3, pp. 185-190.

Webb, A 2003, The project manager’s guide to handling risk, Gower Publishing, Wales.

Weidenhammer, B 2004, ‘Compatibility and interconnection pricing in the airline industry: a proposal for reform’, The Yale Law Journal, vol. 114 no. 2, pp. 405-441.

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