Tuesday, 23rd April 2019


Commercial aviation is the part of aviation involving aircraft that is operated for hire to transport people or cargo. When aeroplanes or helicopters are used to transport people or goods from different locations for money, this is known as commercial flights. Commercial aviation as a career path involves many different sectors and professions, not all of which are based in the air.

There are 30 commercial airports in the UK as well as many private airports and airfields. The commercial aviation industry tends to be dominated by a small number of large companies or airlines, who employ a whole myriad of people. In 2009 UK commercial airports dealt with more than 218 million people, so it is big business.

Commercial flights can only be operated for money if the following three criteria are met:

  • the aircraft’s pilot must hold a valid commercial pilot's certificate
  • the aircraft must hold a valid commercial registration
  • the operator of the flight must have authorization for commercial operations

The commercial industry was changed by the introduction of low-cost airlines, which altered the structure of the sector. Low cost airlines are still an area of growth, but the this growth is expected to slow down soon.

There are three main areas of work in the commercial aviation sector:

  • Airport ground services – such as baggage/ramp handling, aircraft preparation, ramp supervisor, aircraft dispatcher
  • Airport operations – such as airport terminal managers and officers or air traffic control
  • Airline operations – such as passenger services staff, cabin crew, pilots and captain

With passengers arriving and leaving the UK to travel to destinations all over the world, security is a major part of airport operations. Aside from the immigration office, checking passports and monitoring the people entering the UK, there are also heavy security measures in place at UK airports. The safety and security of all passengers and staff is of upmost importance. All passengers need to go through security checks, on their identity and their personal luggage,and there are hundreds of security staff of all types at every airport.

The skills required in this job path will vary between profession and the employer. Many positions do not require any specific qualifications, with a few exceptions such as pilots and air traffic controllers. Most positions will be full-time, usually working on a shift-basis.