module specification

CA5054 - Airline Commercial Planning (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Airline Commercial Planning
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
105 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 50%   Board Room Meeting - 30 minutes
Coursework 50%   Individual report - 1500 words
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon
Autumn semester North Tuesday Morning
Autumn semester North Monday Morning

Module summary

The module introduces the key themes and understanding for the development of new routes.  The importance of route development cannot be underestimated for commercial airlines and is a combination of issues such as the markets available and the ability of the airline to launch operations into the market successfully by understanding the critical factors such as aircraft selection and performance and finance.

  1. The industry structure and outlook are critical to understanding how airlines assess their market opportunities, so this requires global knowledge of the industry.
  2. The management of commercial airline operations is the heartbeat of the ability to grow a profitable network and the module introduces an understanding of the specialist functions within the department.
  3. The steps of route planning process are critically important to the development of profitable route networks and this is central of the commercial airline sustainability.
  4. Aircraft performance features are again critical to the development of sustainable commercial airline operations and the module will evaluate these features of aircraft.

Prior learning requirements



INDICATIVE CONTENT – includes the following areas of study:
Airline industry outlook: - LO1

  • The airline transport market – overview
  • The nature of air travel demand
  • The commercial airline industry
  • Industry structure and organisation
  • Market analysis – major carrier characteristics – the FSNC
  • Regional carrier features / LCC features / Charter features
  • What does it take to set up a new airline?

The management of commercial operations – roles and responsibilities - LO1

  • Commercial departments structures
  • Specialist functions in commercial departments
  • Schedules management
  • Fleet management

Steps in route planning - LO2

  • Planning approaches
  • Corporate strategic planning tools
  • Regulatory systems
  • Aero politics – international background
  • Role of forecasting and scenario building
  • What is the purpose of forecasting?
  • Types of forecasting
  • The role of scenario building
  • The cut and thrust of airline planning

The tools of aircraft selection - LO3

  • Aircraft economic performance
  • Aircraft performance limitations
  • Aircraft and airline suitability criteria
  • Airline and aircraft manufacturer relationships
  • Aircraft strategic selection criteria and finance

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The formal delivery of the teaching and learning will be based on three contact hours per week spread over 12 weeks with additional enrichment weeks throughout the semester. The contact hours will be formed of a two-hour interactive session which draws from teaching and learning strategies such as workshops, lectures, guest speakers, case study discussions, panel discussions and debates, videos, online Weblearn platforms as well as scenario-based real time activities and simulations.

Peer to peer learning will also feature within the programme as students work together to develop solutions to practically based solutions and assess/ critique the relevant impact.

Groupwork will form a large part of the sessions, with student participating in active learning as they disseminate and discuss relative experience and acquired knowledge on commercial planning, route start-ups and fleet selection.

The remaining hour of contact time will be a seminar-based approach where students will explore current commercial airline planning themes and trends in more detail. Excel will be used as a data analysis tool.

Alumni will also provide a careers perspective for this section of the industry and guest lecturers will provide contextual learning and gaming where possible.

Within the module there is significant opportunity to participate in proactive learning activities via the use of Weblearn facilities which promote inter-active discussions between both peers and lecturers and enables learners to share resources and access links to external journal articles, websites and other sources.

Discussion and debate are actively encouraged both within the classroom context and via Weblearn. Students participating in this degree come from a variety of backgrounds and often have a wealth of industry experience upon which to draw. It is useful to access this via proactive and inter-active classroom management.

Students have a responsibility to prepare for forthcoming lectures so as to ensure that they fully understand the concepts discussed and, so as they can participate fully in debates and discussions. This can be done via accessing the module specifications on-line or via Weblearn, and ascertaining the forthcoming weeks lecture content.

Tutors will provide an indication of forthcoming lecture content at the end of each preceding lecture. The student should then research articles and appropriate readings around these themes so as to contribute fully to discussions and inter-active Question and Answer sessions within the lecture.

Opportunities for reflective learning will be available throughout the module as students are given the opportunity to consider their approach to tasks and discussions whilst simultaneously having the opportunity to reflect upon informal feedback that may be given from lecturers on ideas and concepts spoken of in class and, on assessments submitted.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, Students will be able to:

  1. Evaluate the process of airline commercial planning involving the determination of markets and industry trends involved with the selection of the appropriate markets (routes) for network development. (LO1)
  2. Assess the critical steps in airline route start-ups and the tools required to make appropriate decisions for route and network development. (LO2)
  3. Assess aircraft selection criteria and the fit of aircraft into operational requirements including economic, financial and practical features of the equipment (LO3)

Assessment strategy

The assessment of this module will take the form of a group presentation (individual mark) and a written individual report. 
Assessment 1 - The Board Room Meeting will be in the context of a major route development for an established commercial airline and the preparatory work required for this decision-making situation.
Assessment 2 – A written report (coursework) for the selection of an appropriate aircraft for the above route development with a full and appropriate justification.

See below:


Recommended Text
Budd, L. and Ison, S. (2017) (Eds.). Air Transport Management: An International Perspective. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Belobaba, P, Odoni, A. & Barnhart, C. (Eds.). (2015). The Global Airline Industry (2nd ed.). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.

Clark, P. (2001). Buying the Big Jets: Fleet Planning for Airlines (3rd ed.). London: Routledge

Other Reading

Doganis, R. (2006) The Airline Business (2nd ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.

Graham A. (2013) Managing Airports: an International Perspective, (4th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge

Holloway, S. (1998). Changing Planes. London: Routledge

Johnson G., Whittington, R., Scholes, K., Angwin, D., Regnar, P.  (2015) Fundamentals of Strategy, (3nd ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited

Prather, C.D. & Steele, R.N. (2015) Airport Management, Aviation Supplies and Academics, Inc.

Price, J. & Forrest, J. (2016) Practical Airport Operations, Safety, and Emergency Management: Protocols for Today and the Future, Butterworth-Heinemann

Shaw, S. (2011). Airline Marketing and Management (7th ed.). Farnham: Ashgate.

Taneja, N. (2014). Designing Future-Oriented Airline Businesses. Farnham: Ashgate.

Wensveen, J. (2015/2016). Air Transportation: a Management Perspective. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Young, S. & Wells, A.T. (2011) Airport Planning and Management, (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill


Journal of Airline and Airport Management
Journal of Air Transport Management
Journal of Air Transportation
Journal of Transport Geography
International Journal of Civil Aviation
International Journal of Transport Management

Industry bodies examples