In an era of continuous advances in air transport technologies and an increasing push towards sustainable aviation, it's an exciting time to have a career within air transport management. This rapidly evolving industry requires managers with advanced and comprehensive knowledge, coupled with an in-depth understanding of its needs.

The Executive Air Transport Management MSc is designed to help you develop the skills required to enhance your career within in various sectors of the air transport industry, including airlines, airport companies and authorities, civil aviation departments, air transport consultancies and aerospace companies. Its part-time, flexible format covers a range of strategic management issues and enables you to focus on subjects that match your individual interests and career aspirations, whilst you remain in employment.


  • Start dateMarch or June or November
  • DurationMSc: up to three years part-time. PgDip: two years part-time. PgCert: two years part-time.
  • DeliveryTaught Module 50%, Individual case study 10%, Individual research project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeExecutive
  • CampusCranfield campus, External

Who is it for?

Created to meet the demand for more flexible executive teaching in air transport management, this course is suitable for those who require a broader knowledge of air transport management strategic issues whilst remaining in full-time employment. It combines compulsory air transport core learning with an increased focus on leadership and personal development including managerial, interpersonal, financial and analytical skills. Accelerate your career development by focusing on subjects that match your individual interests and career aspirations.

Your career

Successful completion of this course will provide you with an internationally recognised qualification which benefits from Cranfield University's reputation and can take you onto new levels of your career anywhere in the world. All course delegates are granted access to our exclusive LinkedIn Cranfield University - Air Transport Group, which offers unrivalled networking and job opportunities.

Why this course?

The MSc Air Transport Management has been established since 1964 and has an outstanding global reputation with over 1,500 graduates to date. We recognise the challenges faced by our executive students and therefore have reduced the required number of visits to Cranfield through the introduction of several distance learning modules as well as the opportunity to join lectures "live online". This enables students from all over the world to complete this qualification whilst balancing work/life commitments.

We are very well located for students from all over the world and offer a range of library and support facilities to support your studies. This MSc programme benefits from bringing together students from a wide range of backgrounds which significantly enhances the experience for both staff and students.

Discover the unique facilities available to you as a student on this course.

Informed by Industry

The course is informed by industrial advisors from leading companies in the air transport industry. The 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.

We regularly invite senior industry experts to present to our delegates. Previous speakers have included:

  • John Strickland, Director JLS Consulting
  • Brian Pearce, Former Chief Economist of the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Course details

Whilst working full-time for an airline, I was interested in a postgraduate programme that would take my knowledge of this exciting industry to the next level. Only one course came highly recommended by virtually everybody in the industry I spoke to: the Executive Air Transport Management MSc at Cranfield University. It’s not just one thing that sets this course apart – it’s everything about it.

The academic rigour that challenges, the world-class academic staff who inspire, the practical examples that go beyond the classroom and the extensive network that opens doors. I’m excited about my future with Cranfield behind me all the way.
Cranfield offers an inspiring, challenging and rewarding academic environment. I find staff very competent, motivating and flexible. Having the possibility to share knowledge as industry professionals among each other is truly valuable. I can highly recommend the course!

The taught programme for the Air Transport Management masters starts three times a year and is comprised of seven modules (five compulsory and two optional). Most modules are completed over one-week periods plus additional content delivered online (in your own time) on our Virtual Learning Environment so you are only expected to make three trips per year to Cranfield to complete the taught modules. You can alternatively choose to follow lectures “live online”, i.e. synchronously, if you cannot attend a module in person for professional or personal reasons. Some optional modules are available for distance learning only.

Course delivery

Taught Module 50%, Individual case study 10%, Individual research project 40%

Individual project

The thesis is undertaken during the final year of your studies. It provides an opportunity to study a problem in detail, and sponsoring organisations may collaborate in the choice of a suitable subject. This allows you to demonstrate the application of your learning to real-life problems.
Previous theses have included:

  • Route selection strategies of the low cost carriers: the case of Ryanair and easyJet
  • Sustainable business models for airlines in Africa
  • Ancillary revenues in airlines and their implication for revenue management. 


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.

The Air Transport Industry Challenges and Issues

    To provide a solid understanding of the key challenges and issues currently impacting and shaping the international air transport industry, and likely to do so in the foreseeable future. 
    • Evolution of airline strategies
    • FSNC and LCCs
    • Air cargo and integration
    • Global airport business
    • Airport-airline relationship
    • Airport commercial revenues
    • Performance metrics and success factors
    • Global air network competition and development
    • The impact of new technologies, products and services
    • Air transport and the environment
    • Sustainable growth in air transport industry
    • Future air transport industry prospects
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Determine and assess the key contemporary challenges impacting the international air transport industry to establish importance and impact.
  2. Identify and analyse the key metrics that are related to the air transport industry.
  3. Assess and evaluate commercial relationship between airlines and airports.
  4. Develop key recommendations for air transport industry regarding feasible strategies for future sustainable growth and expanded global reach.
  5. Assess the future of air transport based on the likely future key challenges and issues air transport. 

Air Transport Economics and Financial Management


    To provide a sound understanding of those economic concepts which are particularly relevant to decision-making in the air transport industry.

    • Demand and supply analysis
    • Profit maximisation and cost minimisation in the competitive environment
    • Market entry barriers in aviation 
    • Structure of airline and airport costs
    • Airline pricing and revenue management
    • Introduction to financial statements
    • Financial ratios and airline and airport evaluation
    • Source of finance and aircraft leasing
    • Investment appraisals
    • Economic regulation 

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Assess the fundamental elements of finance and economic theory that are applied to analyse aviation markets.
  2. Critically analyse the economic and financial characteristics of airlines and airports and the sources of revenues and structure of costs.
  3. Calculate, analyse and benchmark airline and airport economic and financial performance (costs, financial ratios etc.). 
  4. Critically examine the different sources of finance available in the air transport industry.
  5. Evaluate and apply different investment appraisal techniques.

Air Transport Strategic and Marketing Management


    To assist air transport managers to formulate and implement strategies in order to create sustained competitive advantage.

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


    Introduction to strategic air transport management 
    Core concepts of strategic management
    Performing strategic analysis 
    Strategies used to respond to competition and competitive advantage 
    Airline business diversification strategies 
    Introduction to marketing 
    Consumer behaviour
    Market segmentation
    Airline and airport products
    Customer experience and journey 
    Branding, promotional communication and loyalty
    Pricing and revenue management
    Airport route development and marketing

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Identify, appraise and critique strategic management and marketing concepts applied by airlines and airports. 
  2. Assess how different strategies impact the competitiveness of airlines and airports, including the planning of products and the importance of product differentiation.
  3. Examine the characteristics of the main segments of airline and airport markets.
  4. Assess the links between advertising, pricing, promotion, branding and customer behaviour.

Professional and Personal Development for Leaders in Aviation

    To provide an introduction to the individual and the group in the organisation – how and why people differ. 
    To introduce frameworks that aid interpersonal understanding, communication and relationships. 
    To introduce the notion of personality and emotional competence. 
    To consider the importance of relationships at work. 
    To discuss the importance of effective feedback. 
    To introduce the concept of group dynamics and effective teams. 
    To explore the effectiveness of different leadership styles. 
    To provide an introduction to, conflict and control, power, politics and influence in organisations. 
    To introduce and understand the role of organisational culture in change. 
    To explore the challenges of leading change
    To reflect on the learning on the course and its applicability in the learners working environment and future career plans


    Generally the curriculum will develop from a critical view of the individual through an understanding of his or her relationships at work with respect to membership of groups and teams. This module provides understanding of various perspectives on the effective leadership of change, paying particular attention to the role of organisational culture. 
    Specifically, the syllabus will include: 

    • Introduction to personal and professional development 
    • Individual differences and learning
    • Group dynamics and team roles
    • Relationships, personality and motivation
    • Organisational culture
    • Power, politics and influence
    • Operational change approaches
    • Leadership of change and leadership paradoxes
    • Leadership and coaching

    The module will be supported by coaching and mentoring sessions and at the end of the taught component of the MSc course, will reflect on the learning that has been made on the course and how this affects the learners professional and personal development.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Examine the diverse nature of organisations and how people, management and strategy are influenced by internal and external factors.
  2. Critique a wide range of Leadership competencies, styles and techniques.
  3. Identify key challenges in change processes and develop effective leadership interventions.
  4. Critically reflect on personal strengths and weaknesses, including an understanding of how they are perceived by peers.
  5.  Appraise the professional and personal development with regards to the learning on the course and its applicability in the air transport industry and based on this, develop a plan of action for future personal and professional development

Individual Case Study in Air Transport Management


    To provide a industrial case where knowledge and skills gained from the taught components of the course can be applied to solving an air transport management problem.

    • Introduction to the project
    • Progress review
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Critically evaluate the operational, strategic, economic and financial performance of an air transport organisation in a holistic way.
  2. Collect and analyse information and industry data from a variety of sources to support a case study analysis.
  3. Plan, manage and execute an industrial project to a deadline.
  4. Competently defend the findings of the project.

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

Air Transport Market Analysis and Forecasting

    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.

Crisis Management and Business Continuity


    Crisis management is a topic area relevant to airlines, airports and other organisations involved with delivering air transport. These organisations typically have dedicated personnel and departments to emergency response and crisis planning. The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of how to plan for crises, what to expect when they happen, and how to deal with practicalities such as dealing with media, survivors and in the longer term, insurers.


    Crisis management planning

    Crisis communications

    Critical function and risk analysis

    Business continuity development and strategy

    Crisis management exercise

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Describe the key elements of a crisis 
  • Analyse the importance of effective crisis management
  • Critically evaluate past aviation crisis management
  • Facilitate business continuity planning.


Airline Fleet Planning

    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, economic analysis and financial evaluation 
    • Data sources and modelling techniques 
    • Defining the aircraft product 
    • Evaluation of competing products  


Intended learning outcomes

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

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

Geopolitics and International Aviation Law

    To provide a sound comprehension of how legal concepts and regulatory policies affect and apply to the global air transport industry, considering its unique nature. 
    • International regulation 
    • EU regulatory policy 
    • Introduction to international aviation law
    • The 1944 Chicago Convention 
    • Geopolitics and aviation 
    • Airline liability 
    • The bilateral system
    • EU competition law 
    • Impact of deregulation/liberalisation 
    • Safety regulations ICAO
    • Safety regulations EASA/H&S 
    • Environmental regulation 

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Evaluate the contemporary relevance and ongoing effectiveness of the 1944 Chicago Convention for global aviation;
  2. Assess and explore the role of geopolitics in global aviation, including how international relations and geographical location impact and shape the airline industry;
  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. 

Air Transport Engineering - Maintenance Operations

    To provide students with the fundamentals of the disciplines associated with the management of aircraft maintenance and engineering.

    • Maintenance Programme Development – balancing of 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; Maintenance costs.
    • Human Factors in Aircraft Maintenance - Error types; Classification systems; Maintenance Error Management System; Maintenance Error Decision Aid (MEDA) & other resources.
    • Logistics and supply chain management.
    • Linkages between manufacturer, operator and maintenance organisation.
    • Continuing airworthiness management and Regulatory aspects (EASA Part M).
    • Health and usage monitoring, engine condition monitoring etc.

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
1. Describe the principles of reliability with direct relation to aircraft availability.
2. Outline a maintenance management programme, including the interface with operations, supply chain and cost issues.
3. Critically appraise the various aircraft maintenance philosophies used for in-service aircraft.
4. Develop a process for achieving continuing airworthiness management with the appropriate regulatory approval.

Airport Operations

    To provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills in airport operations.

    • Airport management systems
    • Airside and landside operations
    • Airport social media
    • Control of emergencies and contingency planning
    • Airport security
    • Airport safety management systems and risk assessment
    • Airport customer service
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Explain key airport operations and describe their contribution to service provision;
2. Evaluate the thought processes required in effective airport business recovery following an airport incident or process change;
3. Critique the requirement for (and the components of) a robust airport security plan and safety management system.

Air Transport Environmental Planning

    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.

Airport Strategic Planning


    To ensure that upon completion of the module, you will have acquired the required level of knowledge and skills to successfully tackle real-world airport strategic planning problems.  

    • Site selection for new airports 
    • Airport Master Planning 
    • Flexible strategic planning 
    • Airport policy and the planning process 
    • Airport catchment areas and ground transport access 
    • Airport competition and connectivity 
    • Digital transformation and strategy 
    • Airport stakeholder relations 
    • The influence of airline behaviour on airport planning 
    • Case studies in airport strategic planning 
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the process of airport capacity planning within the context of changing airline industry structure, national airport policy goals and planning constraints;
2. Identify the key components involved in approving airport development projects and be able to appraise the arguments for and against expansion;
3. Compare, analyse and assess different location options for new airports and understanding the interaction of key variables in the decision-making process;
4. Collect information from a variety of electronic (internet) and hard copy sources to support research;
5. Appraise and critique the work of other practitioners and specialists, communicate effectively, in written form, research work produced, and complete coursework to set deadlines.

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; 

Airport Design


    To provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills in the design of airports and associated facilities in respect to contemporary commercial requirements.

    • Airport capacity on land- and airside. 
    • Airfield configuration including runway, apron and taxiways. 
    • Terminal layouts. 
    • Surface access design.
    • Baggage handling. 
    • IT systems in terminal design.
    • Aircraft performance and airport design. 
    • Impact of changing industry requirements on airport design. 
    • Passenger flow simulation. 
    • Case studies in airport design. 
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a clear understanding and knowledge of the fundamental principles of sustainable airport design within the context of climate change, constantly evolving airline requirements and radical alterations to airport surface access as well as international and local aviation policies;
  2. Explore and explain the impact of aircraft performance and characteristics onto the design of the airport infrastructure, including traditional kerosine-, SAF-, electric- and hydrogen-powered fixed-wing aircraft and eVTOL;
  3. Assess, measure and calculate the capacity of airport sub-systems and possess the skills to model passenger flows using design simulation software;
  4. Elaborate future requirements of airports in response to their business diversification and the need to integrate new forms of passenger services supporting the evolution of the airport business model;
  5. Examine and evaluate the ability of airport design to respond to changing requirements within the global economy and growing passenger expectations.

Regional Aviation

    To ensure that when students complete the module they will have received the required level of knowledge and relevant sets of skills in order to apply these competently to help them solve business and management problems in regional aviation.

    • Regional airline economics
    • Regional airline strategy
    • Regional airline network planning
    • Regional aircraft performance and economics
    • Regional airline fleet planning
    • Management of regional airports and ATC
    • Subsidies, public service obligations, and other support mechanisms
    • Case studies and practitioner visiting online lectures
Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

1. Discuss the key economic and business features that are common to regional airlines and evaluate how these differ from other airline business models.
2. Critically analyse and appraise business problems relating to regional airline strategy and network planning.
3. Critically evaluate the performance characteristics of regional aircraft in the context of regional airline fleet planning and the implications on business performance.
4. Critically evaluate the common economic and business challenges faced by airports and providers of ATC in regional markets.
5. Critically analyse and appraise policy challenges relating to the use of essential air service support mechanisms that are often applied to remote / peripheral regional markets.

Digital Airline Management

    To provide students with an understanding of the developments in technology and digitalisation in the airline sector and how this impacts the airline business.  


    Developments of IT within the airline sector (e.g. blockchain)
    Digital transformation processes
    Data sources in airline management
    The use of data within airlines (e.g. forecasting)
    Airline e-commerce
    Social media
    Digital developments in airline operations (flight and ground operations, air cargo, MRO)

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Examine the characteristics and key drivers of technology in the airline sector.
  2. Assess the potential applications of technology and the digital transformation process in the airline sector.
  3. Appraise the role of e-commerce and social media in the airline sector.
  4. Identify and judge the data sources available in airline management.
  5. Examine the data available in the airline sector and assess its usefulness in airline management.

Teaching team

You will be taught by one of the largest academic groups 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.

How to apply

Click on the ‘Apply now’ button below to start your online application.

See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.