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Airport Operations

Airports are usually operated by a director or manager responsible either to the private owners of the airport or to the local government authorities. The airport manager must be a person of many talents and competent in public relations, economics, business management, civil engineering, personnel management, labor relations, and politics. If the manager is self employed as a small airport operator, he or she probably also operates an aircraft repair station, sells aviation fuel, gives flight lessons, and offers taxi or charter flights.


Examples of duties include plans, organizes, supervises and directs operations, conducts training, manages scheduling, distributes communications, and more. The airport manager…

  • Ensures programs are in compliance with regulatory agencies;
  • implements changes or improvements concerning the daily operations of the airfield;
  • continuously monitors skill levels and determines training needs;
  • coordinates, monitors, and evaluates law enforcement, ARFF, air traffic control and snow removal operations;
  • airport regulations;
  • recommends service improvements;
  • works with tenants to gain compliance with federal, state, and county regulations for the safe and orderly operation of the airport;
  • assists in long-term airport planning;
  • acts as liaison with Federal Aviation Administration’s control tower, tenants, users, airlines, and airport staff regarding operations;
  • assists in developing the departmental budget;
  • evaluates and recommends changes in ground and passenger traffic at airport;
  • attends public meetings regarding airport operations;
  • coordinates the updating of the Airport Certification Manual, Airport Emergency Plan, Airport Security Manual and Airport Snow and Ice Control Plan;
  • conducts airport exercises and review of emergency plan;
  • participates in preconstruction meetings and responsible for safety during airfield construction.

Working Conditions

Working conditions will vary greatly, depending upon the size of the airport. At a large airport, the manager works in an office usually located in the terminal building. Office hours are regular except in times of emergencies. Travel may be required to negotiate leases with airline tenants or to confer with state and federal officials. If the manager operates a very small airport, he or she may spend long hours giving flying lessons, making charter flights, or working in the aircraft repair station.


Numerous universities offer courses and degrees in airport administration, public administration, business administration, and aeronautical or civil engineering and flight training.

To meet the needs of communities that have airports, and to promote the highest degree of professionalism in airport management, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) has an airport management accreditation program. This professional program improves the manager’s credentials as the responsible authority on aviation in the community, and it provides the manager national recognition as a qualified professional.

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