Airport- Director or Manager Airport Operations
Under general supervision, this position is responsible for assessing, evaluating, and coordinating airport operations activities, Airport Rescue, Firefighting, safety and security needs. Assist in enforcing airport policies and regulations, acts on behalf of the Deputy Director of Operations and Facilities in his/her absence, and performs related work as required.
Examples of duties inclide plans, organizes, supervises and directs operations, conducts training, scheduling and assignments from the Deputy Director. Responsible through a staff of Airport Operations Supervisors and the Noise Abatement/Environmental Compliance Officer for reporting and dissemination of information regarding airport activities and facility conditions, safety and hazards, and information services to the public. 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; reviews 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 I.A.W. FAR Part 139; conducts the exercise I.A.W. FAR Part 107; and participates in preconstruction meetings and responsible for safety during airfield construction.
In the United States, there are about 13,000 airports and 4,000 heliports (landing sites for helicopters). About 5,000 of these landing facilities are used by the public. It may surprise you to learn that only about 650 airports are served by airlines; most of the Nation's airports are used by general aviation pilots and their aircraft. The atmosphere at these airports is usually a lot less hectic and pressured than the environment at a major airport facility.
Some airports are owned by municipalities, states, counties, and cities. Others are operated as privately, owned businesses.
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.
The manager is involved in executive business decisions and may be required to:
Make and enforce airport rules and regulations. Plan and supervise maintenance and safety programs. Negotiate leases with airport tenants, such as airlines. Survey future needs of the airport and make recommendations. Set up the airport budget. Promote the use of the airport. Train and supervise employees. Depending upon the size of the airport, the manager may supervise an assistant manager, engineer, controller, personnel officer, maintenance superintendent, and supporting office workers (such as secretaries, typists, and clerks). If the manager is self employed as a small airport operator, he or she probably also runs an aircraft repair station, sells aviation fuel, gives flight lessons, and offers air taxi or charter flights.
If the airport is operated by a city, the accounting and payroll functions may be done at city hall rather than at the airport. Conversely, some airport managers control a large professional staff and have total responsibility for all matters relating to the operation of the airport.
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.
In many cases the airport manager is a part of the local government and is involved in official meetings and community projects, especially those concerned with aviation.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
As with any managerial position, the position of an airport manager requires experience and training. Large complex airports demand more in depth background than do smaller ones.
One study evaluated the importance of a number of educational areas in airport management. Besides a college degree, the study rated as "very important" a background in public relations, air transportation, business management, engineering, and personnel administration.
The airport manager may need to have had experience as an assistant at an airport. Managers of small airports can qualify in some cases if they have only a high school diploma, but usually they must have a pilot certificate and three to five years of experience in jobs associated with airport services, such as fixed base operator, superintendent of maintenance, or assistant to the airport manager.
The manager must be familiar with state and federal regulations (especially those pertaining to airports), zoning laws, environmental impact analysis, legal contracts, security, aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF), and public relations. Airport managers must have strong leadership qualities, tact, initiative, good judgment, and an ability to get along with others. They should have a good understanding of the needs and concerns of the various users of the airport, including aircraft operators, concessionaires, and the general public.
The manager of a small airport may advance to an assistant director's job at a larger airport. A manager also may move upward to the position of commissioner of airports or to a state level job concerned with state regulation of airports. Appointments frequently are based on political activity and connections, especially if the job does not come under state or Federal regulations governing civil service.
Often entry level positions are advertised locally rather than nationally because of civil service restrictions or local policy. Thus, these positions are hard to find. And even when a position is advertised nationally, competition is fierce. To lessen the number of applicants, many prospective employers require several years of experience, according to the American Association of Airport Executives.
Managers of airports that provide airline service usually are required to have a college degree in one of the following areas: airport management, business administration, or aeronautical or civil engineering.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Wages and Benefits
Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs Aviation Salary, Wages & Pay Report.
Where the jobs are and who hires
Airport operations and management opportunities at large airports typically exist within city, state or county government. Small airports that are privately owned also hire managers.
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Opportunities for Advancement
Aviation plays a prominent role in our economy and new opportunities will always be available. Today, larger airports are expanding and smaller "reliever" airports are being upgraded to serve general aviation traffic being relocated from congested airports. The introduction of low cost airlines is also playing a role in creating opportunities in the industry.
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Outlook for the Future
Aviation's increasingly prominent role in the economy (the aviation industry annual payroll currently runs about $45 billion nationwide) and the availability of quieter aircraft appear to have affected public attitudes about airport development in some communities. There are prospects for capacity expansion at airports that serve as major airline hubs or connection points such as Atlanta, Denver, and St. Louis. At major airports serving coastal population centers, such as Boston, Los Angeles, and New York, suitable sites for airport development are scarce because most developable land is already used for various purposes. At many of these locations, smaller "reliever" airports have been upgraded to serve general aviation traffic being relocated from congested airports. These trends will provide additional opportunities for airport managers and support staff.
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.
To gain accredited airport executive status, you must become an affiliate member of AAAE. Affiliate membership is open to anyone who has active responsibility for the management or administration of a public airport. As an affiliate, with at east one year of experience in airport management, you may declare your intention of becoming an accredited airport executive. If you are 21 or older and have a four year college degree, you may then be reclassified as an executive candidate member. Executive candidates lacking a degree may substitute civil airport managerial experience on a 2 for 1 basis, with a total of eight years of experience being the equivalent of a four year college degree. Executive candidates are expected to complete the professional membership requirement within the three year time limit.
Once the member has completed these requirements, he or she may use the initials A.A.E. after his or her name. An accredited airport executive has voting privileges and may serve on the board of directors of the American Association of Airport Executives. For more information, you may write to:
American Association of Airport Executives, 601 Madison Street, Alexandria, VA 22302
To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.
The airport is one of the most vital elements in our air transportation system. A well equipped airport provides a variety of facilities for the aircraft and for crews and passengers. These include runways and taxiways, which may be lighted for day and night use, a terminal building with lounge areas for passengers, ramp areas and hangars for aircraft storage, maintenance shops for aircraft and avionics, automobile parking lots, and possibly restaurants and shops.