FIN41960 Airline Operations

Academic Year 2021/2022

This module aims to give the student a good understanding of the airline industry, its evolution since the start of mass air travel, the trends and threats that today impact on an airline and its operations, and how they combine to make an airline one of the most complex and difficult businesses to manage. The module will also explain the various business models which are in use by airlines around the world, from Ultra Low Cost Carrier (so called ULCC’s) through Major Global Network Carriers (formerly Flag Carriers) and explain how the particular business of each airline has evolved such that most airlines are today a hybrid/amalgam incorporating many of the characteristics of the different business models as are appropriate to their own individual business operations.

The module will also explain the operations of an airline, from the revenue pipeline through flight production (Operations, Aircraft, Maintenance) and support activities such as HR (in a people intensive business), Finance (in a capital intensive business), and IT (managing a highly complex multi segmented customer specific operation).

The module will also examine the particular business models of IAG Group, Ryanair, ASL and other airlines located in Ireland and abroad to see how their particular business models have evolved, how their route networks and fleet plans have developed (and are developing), how they have managed through the major impact of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic and examine why and how they plan to succeed in this very competitive industry.

The module will also examine the capital structures used by the various airline business models, how airlines finance their business operations and aircraft in an industry which has both high operating and financial leverage. In these lectures we will look at the financial statements of several representative airlines, and examine the key aspects of their capital and operating structures which impact on the credit risks associated with financing an aircraft on lease to an airline, most of which are long term credit decisions.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module students will:
1. Understand the global airline industry
2. Understand the key operations of an airline and how airlines generate revenues and incur costs and the interrelationship of aspects of both revenues and costs with their specific business models
3. Be able to identify the key strategic aspects of an individual airlines business model and how they contribute to the activities of that airline
4. Understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of the core airline operating business models
5. Gain an understanding of an airlines finances and operating results, thereby enabling the student to undertake meaningful credit analysis and evaluation of an airline

Indicative Module Content:

Indicative module content; subject to change at the discretion of the module coordinator.

Lecture 1
The airline industry

Lecture 2
Business models in use in the airline industry

Lecture 3
The revenue pipeline & airline business strategy

Lecture 4
Network planning & airline fleet management

Lecture 5
Understanding an airline’s financials

Lecture 6
Credit risk assessment of an airline

Lecture 7
The impact of past major events on airlines – Terrorism/COVID/SARS/MERS/Recessions

Lecture 8
The future of air travel – some views and how this might impact on airlines

Lecture 9
Airline Financial Statements - Part 1

Lecture 10
Airline Financial Statements - Part 2

Lecture 11
Airline Credit Analysis - Case Study

Lecture 12
Airline Credit Analysis

The timing content and subject matter of these lectures is subject to change and will also depend on the availability of the various guest lecturers involved.

Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Seminar (or Webinar)




Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Project: Individual Project
Student will be required to prepare a review and strategic analysis of a specified airline
Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment: Airline Credit Risk Assessment
Projects will include both individual and group outputs - the breakdown and marks awarded to projects to be advised at the commencement of the teaching phase of module
Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Group Project: Development of an Airline Business Plan
Students will be assessed on the output of the group
Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Class Test: Participation in Class Discussion and Projects, and through routine enquiry on Airline Industry developments Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: Written Examination end of Semester
Exam duration of 90 to 120 minutes
Exam to cover all subjects covered during the module
2 hour End of Trimester Exam Yes Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 Mon 08:30 - 10:20
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 Mon 11:30 - 13:20
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 10, 11, 12, 13 Mon 14:00 - 15:20
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 11 Tues 15:00 - 16:30

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