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Denver International

In: Business and Management

Submitted By clark1
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Case Study – Denver International Airport Baggage Handling System – An illustration of ineffectual decision making
 Synopsis
Dysfunctional decision-making is the poison that kills technology projects and the Denver Airport Baggage System project in the 1990’s is a classic example. Although several case studies have been written about the Denver project, the following paper re-examines the case by looking at the key decisions that set the project on the path to disaster and the forces behind those decisions.
Background
What was to be the world’s largest automated airport baggage handling system became a classic story in how technology projects can go wrong. Faced with the need for greater airport capacity, the city of Denver elected to construct a new state of the art airport that would cement Denver’s position as an air transportation hub. Covering a land area of 140 Km2, the airport was to be the largest in the United States and have the capacity to handle more than 50m passengers annually.
The airport's baggage handling system was a critical component in the plan. By automating baggage handling, aircraft turnaround time was to be reduced to as little as 30 minutes. Faster turnaround meant more efficient operations and was a cornerstone of the airports competitive advantage.
Despite the good intentions the plan rapidly dissolved as underestimation of the project’s complexity resulted in snowballing problems and public humiliation for everyone involved. Thanks mainly to problems with the baggage system; the airport’s opening was delayed by a full 16 months. Expenditure to maintain the empty airport and interest charges on construction loans cost the city of Denver $1.1M per day throughout the delay.
The embarrassing missteps along the way included an impromptu
demonstration of the system to the media which illustrated how
the system crushed bags, disgorged...

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