Air Transport Management MSc


MSc in Air Transport Management

The ongoing success of the air transport industry has been made possible by rapid technological advances and associated high investment, resulting in demands for an increasingly skilled workforce. More recently, industry liberalisation and privatisation in many parts of the world has led to increased competition, spurring further gains in efficiency and a continued decline in air fares. In today's rapidly changing air transport environment the industry requires access to advanced and comprehensive knowledge, coupled with an in-depth understanding of its needs.

The MSc Air Transport Management is designed to equip you with the skills required to pursue a successful career in various sectors of the air transport industry including airlines, airport companies and authorities, civil aviation departments, air transport consultancies and aerospace companies.

The course is suitable for students with a degree in aeronautical engineering, economics, business studies and geography or those with demonstrable experience in the air transport industry.

Course overview

The MSc Air Transport Management provides you with a thorough grounding in all air transport issues. The course is made up of nine compulsory taught modules, a group project and an individual research project. The lecture modules are a mixture of presentations by resident academics, talks from industry experts, as well as thought provoking case studies.

In addition to management, communication, financial, analytical, team work and research skills, each student will attain at least the following learning outcomes from this degree course:

  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of economics and financial management relevant to air transport, air transport commercial practice and air transport operations (as they relate to both aircraft and infrastructure).
  • Demonstrate an understanding of regulatory framework that defines the air transport industry. 
  • Demonstrate an understanding of mathematical modelling relevant to air transport management problems.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the complex interrelationships of technical and operational aspects of the air transport industry with the commercial pressures and realities facing its management. 
  • Analyse critically practical problems in the air transport and related industries to provide timely solutions, having regard to technical, regulatory, commercial, political, social and environmental constraints.

Group project

The group project undertaken in April, aims to provide a simulated industrial environment where knowledge and skills gained from the taught component can be applied to solving an air transport management problem.

Students are divided into groups and tasked with setting up an airline in any country of the group's choice. Students can also choose any type of airline business model. The group present and defend their business plans to a board of senior industry executives as well as to the faculty. Each group must also submit a detailed report which will be assessed.

Individual Project

The individual project is an opportunity to study a current problem and allows students to choose a subject of interest to explore in detail. Students can undertake independent research on a subject relevant to technical, operational or commercial aspects of the air transport or related industries, including a review of relevant literature, methodological planning, data collection, analysis, presentation of results, and evaluation and discussion of these results.

Recent projects have included:

  • The Impacts of Airline Liberalisation
  • Successes of Airline Business Models
  • Applications in Airline Marketing
  • The Benefits of Airport Privatisation
  •  Low-Cost Airline Expansion Throughout Europe
  • The Future of In-Flight Entertainment
  • Airline Alliances
  • The Impact of Globalisation on Aircraft Manufacturers.


The taught programme for the air transport management masters is generally delivered from October to March and is comprised of nine compulsory modules, and one module from the choice of optional modules.


  • Introduction to the Air Transport Industry
    Module LeaderMr Andy Foster - Senior Lecturer
    • Introduction to the aviation system
    • Scheduled and low cost airlines
    • The airport business
    • Airport planning and design
    • Air transport and the environment
    • Air traffic management
    • Aviation safety and security
    • Aircraft manufacturers
    • Tourism and air transport.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the key components of the air transport system, explain their essential characteristics and illustrate the challenges they face
    • Recognise and interpret the safety, security and environmental dimensions of the aviation industry
    • Collect information from a variety of electronic (internet) and hard copy sources to support research
    • Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists
    • Communicate effectively, in written form, research work produced.
  • Research Methods and Statistics

    Research Methods

    • Introduction to research: the research process
    • Problem definition & literature review
    • Theoretical framework & hypothesis development
    • Case study research design
    • Survey research/questionnaire design
    • Qualitative methods e.g. In-depth interview
    • Sampling theory


    • Descriptive statistics
    • Probability distribution
    • Estimation with confidence intervals
    • Hypothesis testing
    • Analysis of variance (ANOVA)
    • Correlation and simple regression
    • Multiple regression
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Evaluate and select the most appropriate research methods and statistical techniques in application to different research need.
    • Critically evaluate research from methodological perspective in terms of its suitability and effectiveness.
    • Formulate and demonstrate practical application of research methods in the theoretical design of a study.
    • Interpret and evaluate basic statistical results of research/consultancy reports.
    • Propose and apply analysis and interpretation skills appropriately to a substantial dataset.
  • Theory of Air Transport Economics and Finance
    • Demand and Elasticity
    • Costs and Supply
    • Revenue and Profit maximisation
    • Structure of Airline Revenues and Costs
    • Network Economics
    • Aeronautical Charges
    • Financial Statements
    • Financial Ratios
    • Investment Appraisal
    • Aircraft Leasing.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the fundamental elements of economic and financial theory:

    • Analyse aviation markets
    • Appraise the economic prospects of airlines and airports, based on:
      • The principles of demand and supply as applied to air transport;
      • The characteristics of airline business models and their key economic drivers;
      • The drivers of air transport profitability, revenues and costs.
    • Assess the financial performance of airlines and airports through:
      • Application of investment and project appraisal techniques;
      • Analysis and interpretation of financial statements;
      • Calculation, comparison and evaluation of financial ratios of airlines and airports.
  • Air Transport Strategic Management
    • Introduction to Strategic Airline and Airport Management
    • Core Concepts of Strategic Management
    • Performing Strategic Analysis
    • Strategies used to Respond to Competition and Competitive Advantage
    • Airline Alliances, Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Airline Business Diversification Strategies
    • Airport Business Strategy
    • Airline Simulation Exercise.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • demonstrate a systematic understanding of the differing theories, approaches and perspectives in the field of airline strategy
    • understand the integrative role of strategic management, its concepts, research and theories
    • apply strategic management concepts and analytical tools to the airline industry
    • appraise the strategic significance of integrated collaboration agreements between carriers
    • access how different strategies impact the competitiveness of airlines
    • collect information from a variety of electronic (internet) and hard copy sources to support research
    • appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists
    • communicate effectively, in written form, research work produced
    • take responsibility for research produced, including, efficient time management, working to set deadlines and targets, demonstrating self-discipline, creative thinking and critical reflections of their own performance
    • collaborate and contribute effectively to group workshops and assignments, appreciating the contributions made by other team members.
  • Regulatory Policy and Air Law
    • International regulation
    • EU regulatory policy
    • Introduction to air law
    • The Chicago convention
    • Airline liability
    • EU air law
    • EU competition law
    • Impact of deregulation
    • Introduction to airport regulation
    • Safety regulations ICAO
    • Safety regulations EASA/H&S
    • Environmental regulation
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the respective roles of air transport industry regulatory institutions and be able to evaluate their effectiveness.
    • Demonstrate how changes in economic regulation and competition law have influenced the evolution of air transport markets.
    • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of important aspects of the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions and be able to apply these to solving cases concerning legal liability.
  • Market Analysis and Forecasting
    • Introduction to air traffic forecasting
    • Air travel demand
    • Trend analysis
    • Time series analysis
    • Forecasting new routes
    • Market share forecasts
    • Long term forecasts
    • Econometric modelling
    • Airline forecasting
    • Airport forecasting workshop
    • Evaluating forecasting results
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Appraise key factors affecting demand for air travel.
    • Collect data and select the most appropriate model to produce a traffic forecast.
    • Evaluate forecasting methods and interpret the results with confidence.
    • Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.
    • Communicate effectively, in written form, the research work produced.
  • Applications of Air Transport Economics and Finance
    • Market Structure, Competition & Regulation
    • Crew Economics
    • Airport-Airline Contractual Relations
    • Airport Commercial Revenues
    • Aviation Networks and Evolutionary Economics
    • Sources of Finance
    • Equity, IPO and Airline Privatisation
    • Risk Management and Hedging
    • Banking Perspective on Airline Industry
    • Business Planning & Financial Management
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Appraise the competitive and regulatory forces that shape the air transport industry
    • Construct an airline’s financial plan given an understanding of airline financial management
    • Evaluate the alternative ways of financing an airline and its operating assets
    • Analyse the relationships between airline financial management and the underlying economic drivers of the airline business.
  • Air Transport Operations
    Module LeaderMr Andy Foster - Senior Lecturer
    • Flight Operations
      • Commercial Planning/Scheduling
      • Crew Rostering
      • ETOPS/Route Planning and exercise
      • Operations Control
      • Airline / Airport interface
    • Aircraft and it's Systems – Airframe; Engines and APU, Hydraulic systems; Air systems; Electrical and Avionics systems; Emergency systems; Fuel systems
    • Undercarriage and Brake Systems
    • Maintenance Management – Legal aspects; Continuing airworthiness management; Maintenance Planning
    Intended learning outcomes
    • Describe the functions of flight operations, crewing and scheduling departments.
    • Describe the purpose of aircraft systems, including electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems.
    • Appraise the different means of providing and transmitting power on board the aircraft.
    • Assess how each aircraft system contributes to safe and efficient operation of the aircraft.
    • State how maintenance requirements are determined and how the legal requirements are met.
  • Air Transport Marketing
    Module LeaderDr Keith Mason - Reader
    • Introduction to Marketing
    • Consumer Behaviour
    • Market Segmentation
    • Airline and Airport Products
    • Market Research, survey design, and analytical approaches
    • Branding, Promotional communication and loyalty
    • Distribution
    • Airport Marketing
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the characteristics of the main segments of airline markets.
    • Identify and explain the key issues in planning airline products and the importance of product differentiation.
    • Use marketing research approaches to investigate airline and airport markets.
    • Assess the links between advertising, promotion, branding and customer loyalty.
    • Describe the current issues in airline distribution.
    • Collect information from a variety of electronic (internet) and hard copy sources to support research.
    • Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.
    • Communicate effectively, in written form, research work produced.
    • Take responsibility for research produced, including, efficient time management, working to set deadlines and targets, demonstrating self-discipline, creative thinking and critical reflections of their own performance.
    • Collaborate and contribute effectively to group workshops and assignments, appreciating the contributions made by other team members.


  • Airline Fleet Planning
    Module LeaderMr Andy Foster - Senior Lecturer
    • Aircraft performance and economic analysis
    • Data sources and modelling techniques
    • Defining the aircraft product
    • Evaluation of competing products.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • describe the principles of fleet planning
    • analyse the performance and economics of different aircraft types.
  • Aviation Safety Management
    • Safety management philosophy and implementation
    • Safety leadership and culture
    • Business case for safety investigation
    • Hazard identification & risk management
    • Flight data monitoring and safety data management
    • Safety controls: Market, regulation and fault systems
    • Change management
    • Safety reporting, analysis and investigation
    • Crisis management
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the fundamental concepts behind Safety Management Systems (SMS), as defined by ICAO and other parties.
    • Select and implement techniques for the identification, quantification and management of hazards and risks.
    • Critically assess strategies for developing and enhancing safety culture including the role of leadership, structure and reporting systems.
    • Critically assess the ways in which safety is measured and managed in airport, airline and other aviation operations.
    • Collaborate and contribute effectively to the crisis management exercise, and other group workshops, appreciating the contributions made by other team member.
  • Air Transport Engineering
    Module LeaderDr Simon Place - Senior Lecturer
    • Maintenance Programme Development - Creation of a maintenance programme based on technical requirements and operational priorities; Maintenance Steering Group 3 process
    • Optimisation of maintenance - Outsourcing/In House Maintenance; Application of Lean principles to Maintenance operations; Maintenance planning; and costs
    • Human Factors in Aircraft Maintenance - Error types; Models for human factors; Classification systems; Maintenance Error Management System
    • Maintenance Error Decision Aid (MEDA)
    • Logistics and supply chain management
    • Relationship between manufacturer, operator and maintenance organisation
    • Continuing airworthiness management; Regulatory aspects (EASA Part M) with regard to Continuing Airworthiness Management
    • Health and usage monitoring, engine condition monitoring etc.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Describe the principles of reliability with direct relation to aircraft availability.
    • Outline a maintenance management programme, including the interface with operations, supply chain and cost issues.
    • Critically appraise the various aircraft maintenance philosophies used for in-service aircraft.
    • Develop a process for achieving continuing airworthiness management with the appropriate regulatory approval.
  • Air Transport and the Environment
    Module LeaderDr Chikage Miyoshi - Lecturer
    • Aviation, the environment and economy
    • Environmental economics, issues and policy, abatement cost of carbon, and cost benefit analysis
    • Measuring airlines’ carbon footprints including workshop
    • Forecasting aviation’s carbon emissions
    • Industry structure and airline emissions
    • Technology and operational solutions
    • Noise, local air quality, and climate change regulations, protocols and industry self-management
    • Airport environmental management
    • Airport surface access
    • Passenger engagement with aviation environmental issues
    • Managing demand and mitigation.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a clear understanding of fundamental environmental economics and the analytical tools to assess aviation’s impact on the environment
    • Understand models to estimate aircraft emissions
    • Appraise the environmental impacts from air transport, locally, regionally and globally
    • Identify current and future environmental regulatory controls on the air transport industry and assess trade-offs between environmental priorities.


The taught modules (50%) are assessed by an examination and/or assignment; Group Project (10%); Individual Research Project (40%).

Start date, duration and location

Start date: September

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year

Teaching location: Cranfield


The MSc Air Transport Management has been established since 1964. The course has an outstanding global reputation with over 1,000 graduates to date. Graduates of this course are featured in our annual CV Book, a publication which is requested by and circulated to our extensive industry partner network, as our graduates are highly sought after. We help students prepare their CV and for interviews for positions all over the world. In addition, we give students access to our exclusive Air Transport Alumni group on LinkedIn. This offers unrivalled networking and job opportunities.

Cranfield University is very well located for students from all over the world, and offers a range of library and support facilities to support your studies. This Msc programme benefits from a wide range of cultural backgrounds which significantly enhances the learning experience for both staff and students.

Informed by industry

The course is directed by an industrial advisory committee comprising senior representatives from leading airports and associated sectors. This group meets annually and ensures that the course content remains up-to-date and equips you with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers. Members of the committee attend the group project presentations and are actively involved in recruiting our graduates.

Current members include:

  • Senior Vice President, Boeing
  • Senior Economist, IATA
  • Director, BAA 
  • Senior Manager, Rolls Royce 
  • Senior Manager, Virgin Atlantic 
  • Senior Manager, EasyJet.

Your teaching team

You will be taught by the largest academic group in the world specialising in air transport management. This multidisciplinary group includes a unique blend of air transport economists, marketing specialists and aeronautical engineers with strong publication records and industry experience. Our staff have won awards for teaching such as ‘Best Lecturer’ for several years running, voted for by the students of the University. Our teaching team includes:

  • Keith Mason, Course Director, is a specialist in airline economics, airline business models, airline marketing and market research. Other members of teaching staff include:
  • Dr Frankie O’Connell, his areas of expertise include strategy, management, marketing, operating costs, distribution and low cost airlines.

Facilities and resources

Students are given subscriptions to the following industry-specific resources for the duration of their study:

  • FlightGlobal Pro - data covering fleets, finance, routes and regulation.
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) - aviation statistics and airline data.
  • OAG - schedule data for over 1,000 airlines and over 4,000 airports.

We organise a number of trips to the Royal Aeronautical Society, Monarch Airlines and various airports. We also help to coordinate travel to the annual Farnborough/Paris Air Shows. Cranfield's Airline Route Competition Simulation (ARCS) business game is used to highlight some of the issues highlighted during the course, which students find invaluable.

Experience and familiarity with using the more specialist industry resources will be recognised and valued by future employers. Developing skills to make the most of our rich information environment at Cranfield is not only important to you whilst you are studying at Cranfield, it is also vital for your future employability and career progression.  

Cranfield University offer a comprehensive library and information service, and are committed to meeting the needs of students, creating a comfortable environment with areas for individual and group work as well as silent study.

Entry Requirements

A first or upper second class UK Honours degree (or equivalent) in any relevant discipline. A lower qualification plus a number of year’s relevant working experience may be accepted as equivalent.

Applicants who do not fulfil the standard entry requirements can apply for the Pre-Masters programme, successful completion of which will qualify them for entry to this course for a second year of study.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. Our minimum requirements are as follows:

IELTS - 7.0 overall score, with a minimum of a 6.0 in all elements of the test

TOEFL - 100 

Pearson PTE Academic - 68

Cambridge English Scale - 190

Cambridge English: Advanced - C

Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low.

We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.


Home EU Student Fees

MSc Full-time - £9,000

Overseas Fees

MSc Full-time - £17,500

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.


Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS)

The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) is a funding programme providing affordable tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time UK/EU students studying technology-based MSc courses.


Application Process

Online application form. Applicants may be invited to attend for interview. Applicants based outside of the UK may be interviewed either by telephone or video conference.

Career opportunities

Many of our former graduates now occupy senior positions within the air transport industry. The Centre for Air Transport Management has close links with companies and organisations in the industry who consider our students a valuable source of potential recruits – our graduate employment rate is 100%.

Former students have taken up employment in a variety of positions in a wide range of organisations. Some of the main recruiting areas in recent years have included:

  • Airlines (e.g. British Airways, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, BMI British Midland, Monarch, American Airlines, Lufthansa, easyJet, go)
  • Aerospace Manufacturers (e.g. Airbus, Bombardier, British Aerospace, Rolls-Royce)
  • Airport Authorities (e.g. BAA, Manchester, Birmingham )
  • Aircraft Maintenance
  • Air Parcel Carriers
  • Consultancy Firms
  • Aviation Insurance and Finance
  • Aviation Journalism.