Project Shard

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  • IT separation of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports from Heathrow Holdings Ltd.
  • Identify, design and build a suitable IT environment to meet the needs of the three airports allowing them to operate independently from all IT services that were provided by Heathrow Airport.
  • Consider and assess optimal balance between ‘separate/clone’ activity and transform to ensure AGS are left with a suitable IT estate that meets both today’s and future needs whilst considering cost, time and business impact.
  • Complete separation promptly in line with contractual constraints.


Airport divestment has been a major factor in UK aviation. Simoco Wireless Solutions has played an advisory and implementation role supporting the buyer and seller in all four of the previous airport divestments from Heathrow Holdings Ltd./BAA:

  • Gatwick airport (Simoco Wireless Solutions supported the seller as implementation partner)
  • Edinburgh airport (Simoco Wireless Solutions supported the seller as trusted advisor)
  • Stansted airport (Simoco Wireless Solutions supported the seller as trusted advisor)
  • Aberdeen, Glasgow, Southampton airports (Simoco Wireless Solutions supported the seller and buyer)

Our inherent knowledge, experience of previous airport divestments and specific skills enabled the Simoco Wireless Solutions team to quickly determine options and make sensible recommendations to the prospective buyers. This provided them with;

  • a clear strategy for separation.
  • an agreed target IT estate.
  • an understanding of the associated costs.
  • a cohesive and structured plan to achieve separation which could be leveraged immediately following successful acquisition of the airports.


The overall execution phase aligned directly with the mandated switchover period and activities. In order for delivery to be effective from day 1 of the programme, Simoco Wireless Solutions immediately engaged flexibly enabling both parties to maximise the early part of the transition period, rather than delay starting while the detailed contractual process completed.


The execution of the IT migration programme was large and complex. In order to deliver the programme successfully we structured it into five portfolios to enable suitable leadership, management and control for projects within the programme. The five portfolios were…

  1. Programme Management
    Providing the overall management and governance of the programme, working closely with the AGS team to ensure a cohesive plan was in place and adhered to. Simoco Wireless Solutions recognized that in order to successfully manage and control the full separation within the contracted period, efficient governance and decision making would be required, advising that a Transition Steering Committee be established.
  2. Infrastructure
    Responsible for the design, build and implementation of the core infrastructure components that would underpin the future IT environment of the three airports. Prior to separation the majority of core infrastructure was delivered from Heathrow. This provided AGS with the opportunity to transform and re-build the majority of their infrastructure delivering a best of breed and stable platform upon which their IT can operate.
  3. Operations
    The operational systems (for example CCTV, baggage, boarding, security etc.) are key to the three airports and ensuring a smooth, outage-free transition of these systems was critical to the success of the programme. The nature of these systems is that they are in use for extended periods with limited downtime. Having an experienced team familiar with the systems and the operations of the airports was critical.
  4. Back Office
    Responsible for the design, build and implementation of back office systems such as document management, billing, ERP and invoicing. This component of the project entailed a mix of cloning existing systems as well as transforming and changing the solutions that were in use.
  5. Service
    The contract with AGS’ existing IT support provider ran until February 2016. AGS therefore needed to determine how they would source their IT support from this point forward. This portfolio was responsible for identifying the needs of AGS from an IT support perspective, working with AGS to determine whether this should be insourced or remain outsourced and run a competitive tender to determine and appoint a suitable support partner.