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 Air Transport Management MSc 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. Cranfield University has strong industry links and success in placing graduates in this sector for over 50 years.


  • Start dateOctober
  • DurationOne year full-time
  • DeliveryTaught modules 50%, Group project 10%, Individual research project 40%
  • QualificationMSc
  • Study typeFull-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

The Air Transport Management MSc 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.

This course covers a wide area of expertise related to air transport management, while enabling you to specialise in appropriated subject areas. This flexibility means that you may tailor the course to your particular interests and aspirations. It aims to provide you with a thorough grounding in all air transport issues as well as managerial, interpersonal, financial and analytical skills.

Why this course?

The MSc Air Transport Management was established in 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 CVs 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 students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds which significantly enhances the learning experience for both staff and students.

Cranfield enabled me to fully dive in to the commercial airline industry with both academic research and industry professionals by my side.

I wouldn't have been able to have the career that I've had without the course. Its door-opening - having the course and having the Cranfield network leads you to have the opportunity to take on new jobs.

In 1983, I graduated from the Foreign Trade University and then joined Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation, Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, as Coordination Controller. Seven years later, I started working at Vietnam Airlines.

I had ten years of experience in the aviation industry before I decided to obtain a higher educational level and earned an MSc degree in Air Transport Management at Cranfield University in 1994. As an exclusively postgraduate university in the UK and one of the top universities in the world, Cranfield University maintains its top position in many programme-specific rankings.

I am grateful for the many advantages this degree has provided. It's the ideal place to get started on an enjoyable and rewarding career in aviation.

The UK is a highly diverse and successful society and therefore offers international students an academic experience that is very hard to beat. Living in the UK was a life-changing experience for me. I was very fascinated by the innovative teaching methods and leading minds who deliver them.

I have served in a variety of positions at Vietnam Airlines, including General Manager of Southern Branch in 2004, Vice President in 2008, and now as the President and CEO since 2016. I’m determined to make Vietnam Airlines one of the leading carriers in the region, providing the highest level of safety and service quality.

The degree gave me an insight into many unique areas of this complex industry, brought by dedicated staff and a curriculum that prepared me for the demands of an aviation career, with the training required to be successful.

The Air Transport Management MSc helped me to develop in-depth knowledge and understanding of the structure and operation of the air transport industry from an international perspective. I am happy that I had a chance to grow personally and professionally.

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 students 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.

Course details

The taught programme for the Air Transport Management MSc is generally delivered from October to March and is comprised of nine compulsory modules and one module from the choice of optional modules. Many of the lecture modules include case study project sessions and seminars may also be led by senior visitors from industry. 

Students also receive a subscription to industry databases; OAG Schedules, ICAO data, FlightGlobal.

Course delivery

Taught modules 50%, Group project 10%, Individual research project 40%

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.

Previous 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.


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Introduction to the Air Transport Industry

    To provide an introduction to the air transport industry and an appreciation of the business and operational challenges faced by its key components.
    • The airline business
    • The airport business
    • Airport planning, design and operations
    • Aircraft characteristics and trends
    • Aviation safety and security
    • Sustainability in air transport
    • Air transport and the economy
    • Aviation regulation and geopolitics
    • Multimodality and surface transport complementarity
    • Corporate citizenship and social responsibility
    • Passenger experience

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Describe the key components of the air transport system, explain their essential characteristics and illustrate the challenges they face;
2. Recognise and interpret the environmental, operational, economic and geopolitical dimensions of the aviation industry;
3. Collect information from a variety of electronic (internet) and hard copy sources to support research in air transport management;
4. Appraise and critique the work of air transport practitioners and specialists;
5. Communicate effectively in written form in the context of air transport management


Air Transport Economics and Finance

    To provide a sound comprehension of how economic theories and financial concepts relate and apply to the air transport industry, considering its unique nature.
    • 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
    • Market Structure, Competition & Regulation
    • Airport-Airline Contractual Relations
    • Airport Commercial Revenues
    • Sources of Finance
    • Equity, IPO and airline privatisation
    • Risk management and hedging
    • Business Planning & Financial Management
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

1. Review the principles of demand and supply and market characteristics as applied to air transport.
2. Evaluate the drivers of air transport profitability, revenues and costs.
3. Assess the financial performance of airlines, including analysing and interpreting financial statements.
4. Apply investment and project appraisal techniques, including the alternative ways of financing.
5. Calculate, compare and evaluate financial ratios of airlines.

Regulatory Policy and Air Law

    To provide a sound comprehension of how legal concepts and regulatory policies affect and apply the air transport industry, considering its unique nature.
    • International regulation
    • EU regulatory policy
    • Introduction to air law
    • The 1944 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 this module a student should be able to:
1. Evaluate the contemporary relevance and ongoing effectiveness of the 1944 Chicago Convention for global aviation.
2. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the respective roles of air transport industry regulatory institutions and be able to evaluate their effectiveness.
3. Identify and explore core aviation law theories, concepts and debates and assess how these intersect within a multidisciplinary context.
4. Detail and analyse how changes in economic regulation and competition law have influenced the evolution of air transport markets around the world today.
5. Develop and apply a systematic understanding of important aspects of the Warsaw and Montreal Conventions and be able to apply these to solving real-word and scenario-based cases concerning legal liability.

Research Methods and Statistics


    To facilitate the use of basic research methods and fundamentals of statistical analysis to solve research problems in the air transport industry.


    Research methods

    • The research process and ethical considerations
    • Research design in the management context
    • Overview of research methods
    • Case study, surveys, interviews, focus groups, e-research
    • Analysing qualitative data 

    Statistics and quantitative data analysis

    • Data collection design and variable definition
    • Univariate analysis - descriptive statistics
    • Univariate analysis - probability distribution, statistical significance
    • Bivariate analysis with categorical variables
    • Contingency tables, Pearson’s chi-square
    • Multivariate analysis with continuous variables
    • Correlation, Linear regression models, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)
    • Data analytics and visualisation
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Evaluate and select the most appropriate research methods and statistical techniques in application to different research needs
2. Critically evaluate research from methodological perspective in terms of its suitability and effectiveness
3. Formulate and demonstrate practical application of research methods in the theoretical design of a study
4. Interpret and evaluate basic statistical results of research/consultancy reports.
5. Propose and apply analysis and interpretation skills appropriately to a substantial dataset.

Air Transport Market Analysis and Forecasting

Module Leader
  • Dr Chikage Miyoshi
    Obtain the theory and knowledge, skills of ‘demand forecasting’, and apply to the practical work for the air transport industry.
    • Introduction to air traffic forecasting
    • Air travel demand
    • Market analysis
    • Trend analysis
    • Time series analysis
    • Market share forecasts
    • Long term forecasts
    • Econometric modelling
    • Evaluating forecasting results
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Appraise key factors affecting demand for air travel.
2. Analyse data and select the most appropriate model to produce a traffic forecast.
3. Evaluate forecasting methods and interpret the results with confidence.
4. Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.
5. Communicate effectively, in written form, the research work produced.

Air Transport Operations

Module Leader
  • Andy Foster

    To provide students with knowledge, skills and understanding in the theory and applications of aircraft and airline operations, engineering and maintenance to appreciate the impacts these have on the commercial activities of operators.

    • Flight Operations
    • Commercial Planning/Scheduling;
    • Crew Rostering;
    • Route Planning;
    • Operations Control;
    • Aircraft and its 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 On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Describe and analyse the functions of flight operations, crewing and scheduling departments and the legal requirements.
2. Develop a flight and crew schedule.
3. Describe the purpose of aircraft systems, including electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems.
4. Assess how each aircraft system contributes to safe and efficient operation of the aircraft.
5. Identify how maintenance requirements are determined and discuss how legal requirements are met.

Air Transport Strategic Management

    To give the tools needed to perform a detailed Strategic overview of an Airline.
    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 business diversification strategies

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Evaluate and apply strategic management concepts and analytical tools to the airline industry.
2. Assess how different strategies impact the competitiveness of airlines.
3. Synthesise information from a variety of sources to support research on airline strategies.
4. Appraise and critique strategies applied by airlines.

Air Transport Marketing

Module Leader
  • Professor Keith Mason

    To provide a sound comprehension of the how marketing concepts and theories can be applied to the airline industry, considering its unique nature.

    Introduction to marketing 
    Consumer behaviour
    Market segmentation
    Airline and airport products
    Market Research, survey design, and analytical approaches
    Branding, promotional communication and loyalty
    Airport marketing
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Describe the characteristics of the main segments of airline markets.
2. Identify and explain the key issues in planning airline products and the importance of product differentiation.
3. Assess the links between advertising, promotion, branding and customer loyalty.
4. Describe the current issues in airline distribution.
5. Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists.

Group Project

Individual Research Project


    The award of a Masters degree resulting from a taught programme of study requires the student to submit a thesis based on a structured programme of research. This structured programme is typically delivered through collaboration with an industrial sponsor; although it may it may be driven by research interests of the School’s academics. The thesis should satisfactorily set out the results of the structured programme and demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conduct original investigations, to test ideas (whether the candidate’s own or those of others) and to obtain appropriate conclusions from the work. In most cases, the results of the research programme should be set in the context of related work previously published by others. The student is required to communicate their findings in a thesis and through a viva voce, oral presentation and a poster.

    The subject matter range will be dependent upon the specific nature of the project.
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Identify a research question.
2. Develop project objectives.
3. Select and justify methodologies appropriate to the task.
4. Plan and execute a work programme with reference to professional project management processes (e.g. time management; risk management; contingency planning; resource allocation; health and safety).
5. Evaluate and critically analyse literature; analyse data, synthesise a discussion, generate conclusions.
6. Place the findings of the work into the context of the work of others.
7. Communicate findings in the form of a thesis, formal presentation and viva.

Elective modules
A selection of modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Air Transport and the Environment

Module Leader
  • Dr Chikage Miyoshi
    Obtain the theory, knowledge and technique to assess the environmental impact related to the aviation industry, and appraise it in the different point of views according to the stakeholders.

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

Aviation Safety Management

    To provide students with the fundamental skills required to manage operational safety within the aviation industry.
    • The fundamentals of a Safety Management System, and introduction to associated guidance material provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and other State safety regulatory bodies; 
    • Safety data, safety information and analyses; including reporting systems, investigation and Flight Data Monitoring (FDM);
    • Hazard identification and risk management, including an introduction to Enterprise Risk Management (ERM); 
    • Safety performance and safety health; including guidance on audits and safety promotion; 
    • Safety organisations, including guidance on effective management of safety teams. 
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to: 

  • Describe the fundamental concepts behind Safety Management Systems (SMS), as defined by ICAO and other regulatory bodies;
  • 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;
  • Identify techniques for measuring safety performance; 

Air Transport Engineering

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Place

    This module will provide students with the fundamentals of the disciplines associated with the management of aircraft maintenance and engineering.

    • 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 reference 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.

Airline Fleet Planning

Module Leader
  • Andy Foster

    To provide students with the fundamentals of the aircraft selection and fleet planning process and their impact on the financial viability of operators.

    • 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 and evaluate the principles of fleet planning
  • Analyse the performance and economics of different aircraft types.
  • Apply key fleet planning principles and ideas in a real-world airline context.

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.

Your career

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.

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, Monarch, American Airlines, Lufthansa, easyJet);
  • Aerospace Manufacturers (e.g. Airbus, Bombardier, British Aerospace, Rolls-Royce);
  • Airport Operators (e.g. Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham);
  • Aircraft maintenance;
  • Integrators;
  • Consultancy firms;
  • Aviation insurance and finance;
  • Aviation journalism.

How to apply

Applications need to be made online. Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of this page. 

Once you have set up an account you will be able to create, save and amend your application form before submitting it.