Designing a Quality Management System: A Case Study on Emirates Airline


One of the key elements in establishing and completely implementing total quality management processes in any organization is the adoption of working quality management systems. All the ideals incorporated in such a system including processes, procedures, resources and organizational structure must be critically considered. It is through proper implementation of quality management systems that most organizations are able to fully accomplish their core goal; profit maximization. Quality management systems incorporate the use of principles such as transparency, continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, sustainability, quality policies and objectives, data management, as well as functional organizational structures and responsibilities. The following report gives an overlay of quality management issue with respect to Emirates Airline. There is a brief history of the organization, as well as benefits of implementing a quality management system in this organization. The report also includes an optimal business excellence model applicable for Emirates Airline, as well as an analysis for the resulting quality gap. In addition, the report includes suitable measures applicable in bridging the existing gaps discovered in the gap analysis.


The survival of business organizations is subject to many factors such as growth, government policies, environmental and technological changes, and customer satisfaction. However, the core survival element is customer satisfaction. The presence of all other key elements, with the absence of satisfied customers, results to low sales and thus limits the survival chances. In light of this, all business organizations, both the product oriented and the service oriented, have to ensure that they maintain high quality products and service since these create the survival framework. This calls for the establishment and implementation of proper quality management systems within all business organizations. Essentially, a quality management system, QMS, refers to the specific collection of all processes intended to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of quality services and products; meeting the customers’ satisfaction. Basically, quality management systems incorporate the use of proper organizational structures, verified policies, forthcoming processes and procedures, as well as quality resources. Quality management system principles are majorly included in the ISO 9000 group of standards, mostly focusing on issues such as sustainability and relying on the practical assumption that most quality related problems can be easily reduces through practicing transparent documentation and systematic thinking. With this in mind, we now focus on a real world application of quality management systems in already running business organization.

The Emirates Airline

Emirates Airline was launched in October 1985, starting its operations with just two aircrafts, an Airbus 300 B4 and a Boeing 737, both leased from Pakistan (Emirates, 2013). Since the beginning, the prime goal of Emirates Airline was, and still is, to offer quality services, staring small and expanding gradually into regional scenes. As a result of following that key objective of enhancing quality in all aspects of its performances, this airline has over the years managed to attain the standards of an influential global travel player. Emirates Airline which wholly belongs to Dubai’s Government, has characteristically advanced both in scale and stature not subject to government protection, but through vigorous competition from quite a number of international airlines that readily utilize the advantage resulting from the open skies policy in Dubai.

The secret behind the success of Emirates Airline lies behind the organization’s pursuit of explosive and continuous growth while at the same time ensuring the provision of quality services relevant to its industry of operation (Rehbein & Fierlings, 2006). As a result, this has seen the airline’s success as evidenced by the presence of awards in international cargo management, awards in covering many destinations, including leisure destinations, as well as awards in incorporating efficient IT in their service provision (Emirates, 2013). As a result of Emirates Airline providing quality services to its esteemed customers, its popularity has resulted to its current growth which includes a fleet of above 200 airplanes, operations in about 130 destinations in over 70 countries globally, as well as an actively expanding network. More so, Emirates Airline enjoys the status of being the leading airline with respect to operations of Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircrafts.

Benefits of Implementing a Quality Management System in Emirates Airline

As of today, the success of Emirates Airline is subject to various factors, the leading one being quality related. As a matter of fact, this airline subscribes to the services of Emirates Group Security, a private agent that ensures the smoothness of operations in all companies under the government of Dubai’s ownership. With respect to Emirates Airline, the services of this agency are of help with reference to quality issues such as secure aviation operations, employee training and development, prevention of fraud especially in ticketing, document verification ease, cargo protection, safety in the aircrafts, quality assurance, proper administration and surveillance, as well as proper flight catering (Emirates, 2013). A critical look at the operations of Emirates Airline proves that there are many benefits culminating from the use of a quality management system within its operations.

The first one is meeting the customers’ needs. This is important since all organizations’ survival relies on their customers which means that understanding both their current and future needs is vital in ensuring the going on concern (Schlickman, 2003). This helps in increasing both the revenue and the market share. Customer loyalty is established as well, creating repeat business in the process. The second one is exemplary leadership. Through the establishment of proper quality management systems, the management of organizations coordinates towards embracing unity of direction in pursuing the mission of the organization (Bagad, 2008). Consequently, every other worker understands and gets motivated in meeting the objectives and goals of the organization. More so, trust is easily established and fear equally eliminated.

The third benefit is establishment of teamwork sprit; involvement of all work force. In this case, people at all work levels are involved in all important organization activities, using their different abilities and potentials in decision making to the organization’s advantage. In this case, creativity and innovation mark the organization’s growth pattern (Nanda, 2005). The fourth advantage surfaces in the achievement of the desired process approach. This basically means the ability to match each activity to its most relevant resources. The materiality of this is reducing the production or operation costs as well as shortening the time through which the effectiveness of the resources is achieved.

A fifth benefit is the presence of a systematic management approach. This means that the top management has the ability to identify, understand and adequately manage all the interrelated processes thereby contributing to the effective and efficient achievement of organizational objectives. This way, key processes are given adequate focus. In addition, a sixth benefit is the presence of continuous improvement. Essentially, this should be a permanent objective for every organization yearning to remain competitive. It creates the flexibility necessary for quick reaction to opportunities.

Last but not least, quality management systems help in following a factual approach with respect to decision making. This is so since effective decisions result from critically analyzed and evaluated data and information; mostly customer feedback.

The Optimal Excellence Model

In the pursuit of analyzing the current business scenario and making the best improvement from it for future use, excellence models are used. Basically, an excellence model refers to the general frameworks applied by organizations while focusing all decisions and actions in a structural and systematic manner, thus resulting to positive performance (Porter & Tanner, 2012). There are a number of excellence models applied by various organizations with respect to meeting their business excellence needs. For instance, there is the Baldrige Criteria which consists of seven principles and forms a basis of many other business excellence awards, worldwide. Another one is the famous EFQM model, which is based upon the standards set by the European Foundation for Quality Management. This one consists of nine principles. Others include the Singapore Quality Framework, the Canadian Framework, and the Australian Framework, all with seven principles. Critical review to the above excellence models reveals that they are all related and observe the provisions of the international quality management standards (Porter & Tanner, 2012). From the study of the above, it is easy to develop an optimal model specific for Emirates Airline, with the following seven principles.

1. Leadership: The leadership in Emirates Airline should focus on creating a purposeful unity of direction to all workers in the entire organization. Consequently, the organization’s goals and objectives will be met with a lot of motivation. More so, the airline will be able to set and achieve more challenging targets in the future. The inspiration from different workers will thus be recognized and put to use.

2. Stakeholder Involvement: There are many people in the organization’s environment that contribute towards the eventual growth and sustainability of the Emirates Airlines. Steps in involving all of them enhance general motivation, which is a key element behind creativity and innovation. This will result to all the involved people actively seeking for opportunities to improve their personal competence and experience, which results to positive growth for the organization.

3. Customer Focus: Customers form the basis of every organization’s survival. The customers are especially important in the case of service provision, as in the case with Emirates Airline. Therefore, the airline should focus much of its attention towards understanding the current as well as the future requirements of its customers so as to efficiently meet their expectations. The upper hand of customer focus is that it leads to customer loyalty, which consequently results to repeat business.

4. Process Approach: This is important since it is evident that most desired results are results of effectively relating the activities and the resources in an easily manageable process. In light of this, Emirates Airlines will be able to focus on prioritizing various improvement opportunities. More so, the airline will also easily focus on resources, materials and methods which are vital towards general organization improvement.

5. Continuous Improvement: This relates to the continuous improvement of the organization’s performance in all aspects, which should be part of the vision statement. In light of Emirates Airline, this would help to react with ease to all travel opportunities that arise from time to time. It helps the airline to remain competitive in the industry.

6. Systematic Management: A systematic management body helps in the effective accomplishment of organizational objectives since it makes it easy to identify, to understand, and to manage all the interrelated processes within the systems in use. This would thus help the Emirates Airline to structure a system capable of achieving the organization’s objectives in the quickest, most efficient and effective manner.

7. Factual Decision Making: Unlike in many scenarios where most decisions are products of brainstorming, this principal calls for the use of data and information analysis in the decision making process. Such practice by Emirates Airline would lead to the increase in the ability to review opinions and reach decisions based more on sources such as customer feedbacks. Therefore, such reference to factual records will culminate to the demonstration of effective future decisions.

Gap Analysis

The essence of this analysis is to compare the current quality management system in use by Emirates Airline against the optimal excellence model prepared for the same. The best way to go through it is by applying and interrogative approach; posing questions against each principal in the proposed model (Franklin, 2006).

Does Emirates Airline’s leadership demonstrates unity of direction? Yes it does. This is evident from the fact that it sets challenging goals that have seen the airline company evolving from a domestic firm into one of the leading international airlines.

How about the involvement of the stakeholders? As expected in the model, Emirates Airline embraces innovative and creative ideas from all its workers and customers. The effect of this is seen in the state-of-the-art facilities installed in their passenger and cargo aircrafts.

Is there evidence of active customer focus in Emirates Airline? Absolutely, the major contributing factor behind the success of this airline’s services is as a result of deep market research. Through such activities, the airline is now able to meet the needs of all its customers by incorporating different flying standards such as first class, business and economy class flights. More so, aircrafts pursuing different routes are accustomed with facilities that are in line with the cultural and traditional backgrounds of those different destinations.

Are there process approach mechanisms in Emirates Airline? To some extent, the above principle is fulfilling. However, there is need to embrace much of it. For example, since it is a globally accredited airline, it should consider streamlining its flight classes in a more satisfying manner. More so, it should establish a way to ensure that all its host and hostesses share common root training.

What is the situation with respect to continuous improvement? This is self elaborating. Emirates Airline has grown from operating domestic flights with just two aircrafts to operating in over 70 countries with more than 200 aircrafts. This expansion is still underway since it is buying new aircrafts and making negotiations of opening more destinations in new countries.

Is there evidence to factual decision making within the structural management of Emirates Airline? This has been effectively met under the structural management of this airline company. The decisions to establish various new destinations, choosing Boeing 747s and Airbus A380 aircrafts follows acting upon the quality feedbacks of the key stakeholders involved directly with the flights by Emirates Airline.

Evaluating the Gap Analysis

Upon a critical reflection on the above gap analysis between the current quality management practices in Emirates Airline, and the proposed optimal excellence model, it is clear that this airline company has been on the forefront in ensuring total quality management. Out of the seven principles incorporated in the proposed excellence framework, above eighty percent of the provisions are currently met. Much has been sufficiently done with regards to principles such as customer focus, continuous improvement, streamlined leadership, stakeholder involvement, structural management and fact based decision making. All this principles have been adequately met and that is no doubt why Emirates Airline continues to flourish in terms of quality service provision.

The only principle with a relatively wide gap that needs evaluation is process approach. With respect to Emirates Airline being a global operator enjoying the recognition by many people, it should implement a system where there are specific planes for specific travelers. This calls for having planes flying pure first class, pure business class or pure economy class, without incorporating a mixture of flight classes in one aircraft. This would streamline resource allocation and ease the auditing of customer satisfaction and expectations. More so, to create uniformity in provision of catering services, the airline could establish a common source of flight hosts and hostesses. This could be done by establishing a training institution where graduates are directly employed in the Emirates Airlines. In such a case, all the flight catering services across all Emirate Airline crafts in all the destinations could have a root standard, thus fully implementing the process approach principle.


Throughout this report, it is clearly visible that total quality management as established in quality management systems is a core element in the survival of business originations. It is evident that the ability of organizations to successfully meet their customers’ needs and satisfaction is vital for the going on concern. Through the study of Emirates Airline, quality management has stood as a vital tool towards the steady development and evolution of an organization from humble beginnings to worldwide operation status. More so, it is true that there are many models developed by various schools of thought aiming at helping different organizations to achieve their business excellence goals and objectives. However, they all have a common stand since they are all based on the quality management standards stipulated under the ISO 9000. This means that is also possible to create a customized model for a specific organization as has been done for Emirates Airline. The key factor to consider is observing the provisions of the above group of standards. In such a case, it is possible to make important evaluations such as the gap analysis, and make the most suitable recommendations. In short, establishing a proper quality management system could be time and resource consuming, but the long term positive results culminating form its implementation are far beyond compare.


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  • Emirates. (2013). The Emirates Story. Retrieved January 21, 2014, from
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  • Nanda, V. (2005). Quality Management System Handbook for Product Development Companies. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
  • Porter, L., & Tanner, S. (2012). Assessing Business Excellence. Burlington: Routledge.
  • Rehbein, S., & Fierlings, J. (2006). Global Distribution and Transportation: Airlines in Competition – Emirates SkyCargo vs. Lufthansa Cargo. Hamburg: GRIN Verlag.
  • Schlickman, J. J. (2003). ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System Design. Norwood: Artech House.
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