Airport Planning and Management MSc


Airport Planning and Management MSc

There were 4 billion passenger trips recorded at all the world’s airports in 2006 and it is predicted that this figure will reach 7 billion by 2020. This massive projected growth in passenger numbers is creating an expansion in airport capacity and employer demand for suitably qualified graduates.

The MSc in Airport Planning and Management was created to meet a demand clearly stated by employers for graduates skilled and qualified in airport business development, planning, design, operations and environmental management.

We are proud of how our students develop and are excited about what they have gone onto achieve after graduation. We invite you to be part of our growing success in the expanding airport (and related) industries. Our unique airport management course will equip you with the skills and knowledge required to build a stimulating career.

Course overview

The MSc in Airport Planning and Management consists of ten compulsory taught modules, a group project and an individual research project.

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

  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of relevant international and national regulations and explain their effects on airport business, planning, design, operations and safety management decisions.
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of the key issues that affect users of airport facilities (e.g. airlines and retailers) and explain how their commercial pressures, strategic decisions and priorities impact on airport business, planning, design, operations and safety management decisions.
  • Identify, analyse and design solutions in order to address a given research problem within the context of airport planning and management, having regard to regulatory constraints and commercial and environmental imperatives.
  • Undertake and successfully complete a substantial programme of research independently, applying robust methods of data collection and analysis, and communicating the findings coherently.

Group project

In April, students are divided into groups of 7-10, and asked to solve a current airport planning and management challenge. The group project draws upon the learning from the taught modules and applies it to real-life simulation. Each member is required to take on responsibility for a key area for example, market analysis, capital expenditure forecast or terminal design. The group submits a report of their findings and recommendations and delivers a presentation to staff, students and industry experts. 

Projects are usually supported by industry and potential future employers value this experience. Industry involvement is an integral component to the group project, to give you first-hand experience at working within real life challenging situations.  

Recent Group Projects include:

  • Evaluating the business case for extending the runway at Birmingham Airport
  • The preparation of development plans for two new airports in South-West England
  • Designing a new passenger terminal for Leeds-Bradford International Airport.

Individual Project

The individual research project for the Airport Planning and Management masters is an opportunity to study a problem in detail, and sponsoring organisations may co-operate in the choice of a suitable subject. Project topics vary widely and are often based on your area of interest. The individual research project component takes place between April and August.

Recent Individual Research Projects include:

  • An analysis of the hubbing strategy of Air France/KLM at Amsterdam Schiphol airport
  • The implications of secondary slot trading on airport revenues
  • Air traffic distribution in a multi-airport environment; the Mumbai metropolitan region.


The taught programme for the Airport Planning and Management degree is generally delivered from October to March and is comprised of ten compulsory 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Airport Strategic Planning
    Module LeaderDr Romano Pagliari - Senior Lecturer
    • Airport community relations
    • Airport master planning
    • Airport policy and the planning process
    • Airport surface access planning
    • Case studies in airport strategic planning
    • Economic and technical characteristics of surface access modes
    • Flexible strategic planning
    • Securing airport planning approval
    • Site selection for new airports
    • The economic impact of airports
    • The impact of airline industry changes on airport planning
    • Workshop on airport planning
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Identify the key components involved in approving airport development projects and be able to critically evaluate the arguments for and against expansion.
    • Critically assess and examine current airport master planning approaches. 
    • Compare, analyse and assess different location options for new airports and understanding the interaction of key variables in the decision-making process.
      Critically evaluate and assess different policy options when examining the sustainability of an airport system.
  • Airport Environmental Planning
    Module LeaderDr Pere Suau-Sanchez - Lecturer, Air Transport Management
    • Airports and the environment: the context
    • Airport environmental capacity
    • International regulation
    • Environmental impact assessment
    • Aircraft carbon emissions
    • Terminal and ground transport emissions
    • Air quality
    • Technology and sustainable aviation
    • Airport noise modelling: theory and practice
    • Airport noise mitigation strategies
    • Psychological factors of noise annoyance: community relations
    • Case studies and industrial visits
    • Role-play exercise
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Identify and measure all the environmental impacts associated with an existing airport and a proposed new development.
    • Analyse in a critical manner the features and characteristics of the key manifestations and dimensions of airport environmental externalities.
    • Formulate a plan with a diverse range of strategies to mitigate and solve airport environmental externalities and being able to communicate it to the public.
    • Demonstrate confident use of the FAA Integrated Noise Modelling software to solve a particular research problem.
  • Airport Operations
    Module LeaderMr Rich Moxon - Senior Lecturer
    • Airport management systems
    • Airside and landside operations
    • Airport technical services
    • Control of emergencies and contingency planning
    • Airport security
    • Aircraft stand allocation
    • Airport safety management systems and risk assessment
    • Airport customer service
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Explain key airport operations and describe their contribution to service provision.
    • Evaluate the thought processes required in effective airport business recovery following an airport incident or process change.
    • Critique the requirement for (and the components of) a robust airport security plan and safety management system.
  • Airport Design
    • The relationship between aircraft performance and runway design; aircraft geometry and aircraft manoeuvring areas.
    • The airside design of an airport including runways, taxiways and aircraft parking areas, navigation systems, ancillary buildings, cargo terminals; airside system capacity and the description of appropriate analytical techniques.
    • Pavement design for runway, taxiway and other aircraft movement areas.
    • The design of airport passenger terminals including alternative configurations, internal layouts (including design and location of retail facilities); the use of analytical techniques to determine sub-system capacity within the terminal; surface access to the airport and the interface with passenger terminals.
    • The use of simulation tools as a means of airside (SIMMOD) and terminal design; for the latter an intensive terminal design simulation workshop (CAST) will be held in the following week after the taught module.
    • In addition, there will be presentations on ‘Green’ airports and Airport Cities, supplemented by case studies on selected examples of modern airport designs.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Demonstrate a clear understanding and knowledge of the fundamental principles of airport design.
    • Demonstrate a clear understanding and knowledge of aircraft performance and design characteristics, and how such characteristics influence the design of airport infrastructure.
    • Assess, measure and calculate the capacity of airport sub-systems and possess the skills to model passenger flows using CAST terminal design simulation software.
    • Generate an outline airport design, to a specific specification, including runway configuration (and associated airside infrastructure), apron and terminal layouts, and surface access systems.
    • Manage the collection of information from a variety of electronic (internet) and hard copy sources to support their personal research.
    • Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.
    • Communicate effectively, in written and visual form, the research work produced as a result of personal and team efforts.  
    • Complete assignment coursework and case study presentations / reports to set deadlines.
  • Airport Finance and Business Management
    Module LeaderDr Romano Pagliari - Senior Lecturer
    • Financial statements and ratios
    • Investment appraisal
    • Source of finance
    • Demand, cost, supply and market structure
    • Profit maximisation and revenue management
    • Airport - airline relations/ aeronautical user charges
    • Arline economics and air cargo
    • Commercial / non-aeronautical business management and strategy
    • Airport business models
    • Airport Valuation and privatisation
    • Measuring airport business performance
    • Case studies from management practice

    Intended learning outcomesOn successful completion of this module a diligent student should be able to :
    • Assess the financial performance of airports through analysis, interpretation and evaluation of financial statements and business performance ratios
    • Evaluate the financial feasibility of proposed airport development projects through applying appropriate investment appraisal techniques
    • Calculates an airport's level of aeronautical charges using turnaround cost and aeronautical yield approached and to critically discuss the results within the content of its business development prospects
    • Explain relevant concepts of micro-economic theory and their application to the airport industry
    • Critically evaluate the key drivers that shape an airport’s commercial / non-aeronautical business performance


The taught modules (50%) are assessed by an examination and/or assignment. The Group Project (10%) is assessed by a written technical report and oral presentations.
The Individual Research Project (40%) is assessed by a written thesis and oral presentation.

Start date, duration and location

Start date: October

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year

Teaching location: Cranfield


Cranfield University is the only university in the world to run an English language masters course in airport planning and management. Achieving this highly relevant and globally respected degree will enable you to differentiate yourself in a competitive employment market.

Cranfield's Centre for Air Transport Management combines a wealth of practical expertise together with extensive research, consultancy and teaching experience in one centre of excellence. We have been providing postgraduate education for almost sixty years. You can be sure that your qualification will be valued and respected by employers throughout the world.

Cranfield University is very well located for visiting 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.

Accreditation and partnerships

This course is accredited by:

  • The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport

Informed by industry

The MSc in Airport Planning and Management is directed by an industrial advisory committee comprising senior representatives from leading airports and associated sectors. This group meets annually to ensure that the course content will equip you with the skills and knowledge required by leading employers.

Industrial Advisory Committee members include:

  • Catherine Ashman, Senior Airport Planner, Arup
  • Anna Gawthorpe, Safety and Compliance Manager, Execujet
  • Andrew Gibson, International Technical Director – Aviation, CH2M HILL
  • Andy Jefferson, Programme Director, UK Sustainable Aviation
  • Rob Rushmer, Director, Leigh Fisher
  • Richard Timberlake, Director – Transportation, Dar Group.

Your teaching team

You will be taught by Cranfield’s Centre for Air Transport Management’s leading expects and recognised external specialists. Members of the teaching team include:

We are particularly proud of the wide range of seminars and guest lectures offered to our students, given by global leaders in the aviation industry. Past speakers included the CEOs of London City Airport, London Gatwick Airport and the International Airlines Group whose subsidiaries include British Airways and Iberia.

You will have support from the Course Director for any academic matters, the Course Administrator for administrative matters, and the Co-ordinator and individual supervisors regarding individual research project work. You will also have the additional support of a personal tutor for the duration of your study programme.

Facilities and resources

Of particular relevance to students, studying the airport planning and management masters is the fully operational airport on Cranfield’s campus.

You will be offered tuition in the application of current modelling and simulation tools to support and enhance your learning. We offer a week’s training in CAST (airport modelling simulation software). Site visits may be undertaken to airports around the UK including London City, Birmingham, Gatwick and Stansted.

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 second class UK Honours degree achieved at least a 2.1. (or non-UK equivalent) in any discipline. A recognised professional qualification plus a number of years’ 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 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

Working in an airport environment offers varied and exciting career possibilities. Graduates of the MSc in Airport Planning and Management will be able to pursue a career working for an airport authority in business development, operations, design and planning or with one of the many planning and management consultancies that advise airports across the world.

Our passion for the areas of expertise we operate in, and our hands-on relationship with industry are unparalleled. This is recognised globally by potential employers and we have a proven record of graduate employment across airports, consultancies and associated industries.

Recent graduates have secured employment with a range of companies including:

  • Arup
  • Jacobs Consultancy
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Airbus
  • Korean Airports Corporation
  • Malaysian Airports
  • SH&E
  • Aviation Economics
  • Heathrow Airport.