Paul Coby, CIO at BA, believes technology has entered into the commercial mainstream of the airline. “Our business plan for the year ahead shows how central technology is now,” he says. “Technology is driving the whole commercial side of the business.”

BA is looking to increase its online sales, now at about 22 per cent worldwide, and make 80 per cent of its check-ins online or at self-service kiosks by March 2008. This spring it introduced total self-service check-ins on all domestic flights, which is all part of building towards the 80 per cent according to Coby. At Heathrow 11.5 per cent of check-ins take place online, and 10 per cent across other airports. Coby reckons that around six million passengers are regularly booking through ba.com, up from four million a year ago, and a third of all passengers use ba.com before travelling.

“Increasing the number of users is what matters,” he says. “100 per cent has to be the goal. We have 98 per cent of our staff using our intranet now. This is all making technology a mainstream part of the business. There are alternatives where necessary, but many are using the technology and liking it. IT makes it a simple way to do business.”

Coby believes that check-in desks at airports will soon change to customer service desks. Newcastle Airport is already operating at 60 per cent of self-service check-in. “We are really seeing big numbers move the technology to the mainstream,” he adds.

Internally BA is introducing online payslips to its staff over the next few months. “Employee self-service is very popular, they already use it for their rosters and travel, so it makes sense to transfer it to the easy stuff, like monthly payslips,” says Coby.

"“Technology is driving the whole commercial side of the business”"

Paul Coby, CIO, BA

This year BA’s IT team will also focus increasingly on systems for Terminal Five (T5) at Heathrow. Coby says it is going very well, although it is such a large and daunting project. “It is on schedule and we have eight mega milestones to reach as targets over the next year. But devices are deployed, connections are being integrated and 2007 will be a testing year. The airline is moving onto the T5 systems, so they run for a year ready to operate at the new terminal when it opens in 2008. This is the year we put the IT infrastructure and systems in place to manage our people and passengers,” says Coby.