In an era of continuous advances in air transport technologies, and an increasing push towards sustainable aviation, it's an exciting time to enter the world of air transport management. The industry’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, together with ongoing geopolitical tensions and uneven global economic development, require managers and leaders of the future with the knowledge and skills to navigate this uncertainty.

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 almost 60 years. The University also has world leading facilities for addressing the digital, technical and sustainability challenges and opportunities the aviation industry currently faces. The future air transport industry will be shaped and created by the students of today, and there is no better place than Cranfield University to build that career pathway.


  • 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 from a range of academic backgrounds, including aeronautical engineering, economics, business studies, history and geography, or those with demonstrable experience in the air transport industry. Students are typically keen to pursue employment within the air transport sector.

We also cater for professionals looking to enhance their career. Please explore the part-time, Executive Air Transport Management MSc option.

Why this course?

The MSc Air Transport Management was established in 1964 and has an outstanding global reputation with over 1,500 graduates to date. The course covers a wide area of expertise related to air transport management, while enabling you to specialise in a selection of subject areas. This flexibility means that you can tailor the course to your particular interests and aspirations.

The course aims to provide you with a thorough grounding in all key air transport management issues and debates, as well as develop your managerial, interpersonal, financial, project management, team building and analytical skills. To build the management and leadership skills required to contribute to a more sustainable industry future, you will be called upon to locate, carefully consider and provide recommended solutions to a host of contemporary challenges. People skills remain central to our MSc course, including the connections you make at Cranfield University which endure well beyond graduation.

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 write their CVs and prepare 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 having students from a wide range of cultural and national backgrounds, which significantly enhances the learning experience for both staff and students.

Discover the range of 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. Members of the committee attend the group project presentations and are actively involved in recruiting our graduates.

Companies we work or have worked with include:

British Airways
Virgin Atlantic
Heathrow Airport
Luton Airport
Etihad Airways
Regional and City Airports

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 database OAG Schedules.

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 research 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 examine contemporary issues in the air transport industry and an appreciation of the business and opportunities linked to its future prospects. 
    • The global air transport system 
    • Contemporary issues in the air transport industry
    • Prospects for the air transport industry 
    • Sustainable air transport
    • Digital transformation in the air transport industry 
    • Sources of data and information for research in air transport management 

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Explain the essential characteristics of the air transport system, including challenges faced;
  2. Interpret information collated from a variety of resources to support research in air transport management;
  3. Appraise and critique the work of air transport practitioners and specialists; 
  4. 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 you will 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. 

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 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.

Air Transport Operations


    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 Environmental Planning

    To ensure that upon completion of the module, students have received the required level of knowledge and relevant skills to tackle contemporary air transport environmental planning challenges.  
    • Air Transport and the environment: background and context
    • Environmental policy and regulation
    • Communicating with the media and related stakeholders
    • Environmental Life Cycle Assessment
    • Alternative Sustainable Aviation Fuels
    • Sustainable Propulsion Systems
    • Environmental impact assessment
    • Sustainable Airport Master Planning
    • Calculating aircraft and surface access emissions
    • Airport Local Air Quality and Climate Change
    • Airport noise modelling: theory and practice
    • Airport noise mitigation strategies
    • Sustainability Reporting and Sustainable Airport Master Planning 
    • Noise annoyance and Community Relations
    • Circular economic principles in aviation
    • Combatting of wildlife trafficking in aviation
    • Case studies
    • Role-play exercise

Intended learning outcomes On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:
1. Demonstrate an appreciation of the key features and characteristics of the environmental externalities of air transport at varying spatial scales. 
2. Critically analyse the various technical, commercial, economic and political dimensions of environmental impact mitigation. 
3. Identify current and future environmental policy and regulatory controls on the air transport industry and assess trade-offs between competing priorities.
4. Apply different techniques for measuring and calculating the environmental impacts of air transport. 
5. Develop and communicate an environmental strategic plan for air transport. 

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.

Elective modules
One of the modules from the following list needs to be taken as part of this course

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 - 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.

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.  

Air Transport Marketing


    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 
    • Distribution  
    • Airport marketing 
Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Describe the characteristics of the main segments of airline and airport 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. Assess current issues in airline distribution;
  5. Evaluate and apply the work of other practitioners and specialists. 

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.

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.

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.

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 centre 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:

Aerospace manufacturers
Airport operators
Aircraft maintenance
Consultancy firms
Aviation insurance and finance
Aviation journalism


Companies that employ our graduates include:

Qatar Airways/Cargo Company Wizz Air
British Airway/IAG Cargo Company easyJet
AerCap Air France-KLM
BAE Systems Boeing
Changi Airports Group Dubai Airports
Etihad Airways GE Aviation
Lufthansa Group TUI
Vietnam Airlines  


Cranfield’s Career Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

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.

I chose Air Transport Management MSc because I have extensive work experience in the air transport industry. Cranfield University has the most comprehensive course content and is well known as the best institution for any aviation-related study. A highlight from my time at Cranfield would definitely have to be the courses, guest lecturers and assignments were practical and current. Our Group Project was to develop a business plan for a new start-up airline, for a home base country and airport. We chose Columbia as our home country; Cali airport city and we named our airline CALIGO. My Individual Research Project was about Perceptions and benefits of nationality branding compared with nationality neutral branding in the international air transport industry. My plans now I have finished my MSc are to seek employment and growth in the area of business analysis, strategy and insight analysis in an airline or consulting firm.
A highlight from my time studying at Cranfield University would have to be the excellent lecturers and my classmates. Now that I have finished my MSc I am hoping to work for an airline in an inflight catering position in UK, Middle East or Singapore. My group project focused on an Airline start-up proposal focusing on an emerging market, Bangkok in Thailand, as the home base. For my Individual Thesis Project I worked on a meal production forecasting model for Cathay Pacific Airways ex-Hong Kong flights.

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.