What Do Airport Managers Do? A Complete Guide To Duties

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

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Airport managers oversee and supervise the operations of an airport and its staff. Their role is of utmost importance for an airport's seamless and undisrupted functioning. If you are interested in working as an airport manager, knowing about the job role and its primary duties can benefit you. In this article, we examine what airport managers do, what duties and responsibilities they have, what skills they require on the job and how much they make.

What do airport managers do?

To better answer the question, "What do airport managers do?", it's beneficial to review their job duties. In their day-to-day role, what airport managers do determines if an airport is functioning well or not. Airport managers oversee the various departments that impact aviation safety. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is a constitutional body that creates, upgrades and maintains civil aviation infrastructure. It issues guidelines and protocols for the safety and security of airports, aircraft and passengers.

An airport manager implements the protocols and guidelines issued by AAI regarding airports and airspace. They also oversee operational activities related to passenger facilities, air navigation services, security, aerodrome facilities, employee training and technology implementation. Airport managers also work with other departments to increase revenue through passenger services, hangar fees, landing fees, rent from commercial spaces, advertisements and entry fees.

Related: 9 Types Of Aviation Jobs (WIth Salaries And Job Duties)

What are the different types of airport managers?

A single airport manager may supervise multiple functions in smaller airports or airports in remote areas that operate with a handful of routine flight services. Large airports that operate with many flights and address a footfall of large volumes of passengers may require more than one airport manager to manage their operations. In such situations, an airport may employ more than one type of airport manager. Some common job roles include:

  • Airport operations manager: They coordinate with air traffic staff, emergency staff and the public to supervise the day-to-day operations of an airport.

  • Airline relationship manager: They coordinate with pilots, ground staff employees of different airlines that fly from an airport to ensure smooth flight services.

  • Air traffic controllers: They work with air traffic managers and ground staff to ensure flight safety by managing communication regarding flight schedules.

  • Ground staff manager: They ensure that passengers receive information regarding flight information, baggage status, ticket services and supervise passenger amenities.

  • Cargo manager: They ensure that airline and airport staff follow the necessary protocols during the loading and unloading of passenger luggage or freight.

Related: How To Get Jobs At The Airport: All You Need To Know

What are the different functions of an airport manager?

The major functions of an airport manager include providing essential operational services, traffic handling services and commercial services. The functions may vary depending on the size of the airport. Airport managers may oversee multiple activities under each of these functions.

Essential services include:

  • runways

  • terminals

  • hangars

  • buildings

  • air traffic control systems

  • telecommunications

  • security services

  • fire services

  • ambulance services

Traffic handling services include:

  • baggage loading and unloading mechanisms

  • baggage delivery conveyor belts

  • passenger processing systems

  • passenger amenities

Commercial services include:

  • shops and retail outlets

  • duty-free shops

  • restaurants

  • bars

  • car-hire booths

  • travel agencies

  • travel services

  • airline services

  • tourist information centres

  • foreign currency exchanges

While an airport may manage most of its services internally, private vendors and government agencies may manage a few services. An airport manager oversees the smooth functioning of these facilities and services. Mandated protocols like customs, security checks and emigration services also function within an airport. Dedicated services like government agents and police or paramilitary forces typically manage these services. Airport managers work alongside these professionals and may coordinate, assist or intervene in case of a problem or grievance.

What are the primary responsibilities of an airport manager?

Airport managers are responsible for the smooth, safe and undisrupted functioning of an airport. They work within the guidelines of the AAI. They are the primary point of contact for officials working with airline companies and external commercial services. The general responsibilities of an airport manager include:

  • maintaining safety and security of an airport

  • implementing safety protocols and guidelines issued by the AAI

  • overseeing and improving operations and processes in an airport

  • improving revenue and financial performance of an airport by augmenting commercial services

  • coordinating activities of different airport departments

  • working with airlines to ensure smooth flight services

What are the primary duties of an airport manager?

Most important airports function 24/7 and hence an airport manager spends time supervising the operations of various departments round the clock. Airport managers may manage a team of one or more assistant managers, junior executives, clerks, secretaries, communication specialists and accountants. The primary duties of an airport manager include:

  • working with security agencies to ensure safety and security of an airport

  • updating security plans and reviewing them

  • ensuring terminals and taxiways are clear whenever necessary

  • implementing safety protocols as per national and international guidelines

  • managing terminals of various airlines and concourses

  • approving repairs for maintaining buildings and other infrastructure

  • ensuring safety of airport and passenger vehicles within the airport

  • overseeing commercial activities like hotels, bars, parking lots and shopping centres

  • overseeing the financial performance of airports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis

  • meeting with senior managers and other department heads to plan budgets

  • coordinating airport operations like baggage and food services

  • communicating with air traffic control professionals

  • renewing contracts with external vendors like food and retail companies for increasing revenue

  • coordinating with airlines for VIP traffic

  • ensuring adequate passenger services in case of delays caused by weather

  • ensuring compliance of cleanliness and hygiene in all passenger services

  • meeting with other senior managers of the airport and fire, medical and security agencies regularly

  • monitoring safety and environmental concerns as per local regulatory guidelines

What are the skills required to become an airport manager?

An airport manager's role is crucial not only for the improved financial performance of an airport but also for the safety of aircraft, passengers and airport staff. Apart from suitable qualifications and experience, airport management and recruiting managers may look for specific business and soft skills in an airport manager. If you want to become an airport manager, consider developing these skills:

Comprehensive knowledge about different facets of the aviation industry

Knowledge about aviation industry practices and procedures, human resource management, AAI guidelines, government policies, aviation laws and contract management protocols are important for an airport manager. The AAI has computerised the operations of an airport and an airport manager may require basic computer literacy to monitor the functions of different departments. Since this is an administrative role, it is beneficial to have a few years of work experience in a related domain, while applying.

Decision-making skills

A lot of activity happens in an airport at any given point in time, often requiring precise and perfect planning. In case of emergencies or disruptions, an airport manager accurately assesses situations, considers the impact of their decisions and takes actions accordingly. Their ability to respond effectively and make judgements based on the situation is important for smooth airport operations.

Management skills

An airport manager is involved in financial goal-setting for operations and creating a safe environment for passengers and employees. They constantly motivate, train and mentor employees. Planning, goal setting and delegating duties for their team is an important management skill for an airport manager.

Customer service skills

An airport manager's role revolves around providing good customer service and they constantly work towards improving customer experience. They act upon customer grievances and ideally respond immediately. Responding to feedback and following up on issues is an important part of an airport manager's job role.

Related: What Is Customer Service? Definition And Career Advice

Interpersonal skills

Airport managers constantly interact with superiors, employees, contract workers, government officials, media personnel, VIPs, celebrities and regular passengers. Courteous and respectful behaviour towards passengers is part of their role. Facilitating a positive interpersonal relationship with airport and airline employees is a key skill for an airport manager.

Conflict resolution skills

There could be flight delays, loss of baggage, passenger grievances or technical failures, which may lead to conflicts between passengers and airport staff. Airport managers quickly assess situations and resolve conflicts. They train and monitor employees to minimise the potential cause of conflict.

Communication skills

Airport managers exchange information with others personally or through phone, radio or email. The ability to provide clear and concise information is important for preventing miscommunication. Being brief or detailed as and when necessary, is crucial in an airport manager's role.

Leadership skills

Assigning responsibility, following up on actions, providing positive and negative feedback and assuming responsibility for contingencies are part of an airport manager's work. In case of a crisis, airport managers typically provide clear objectives and directions to employees for managing the situation. Motivating employees towards a collective goal and leading by example, is a key skill for an airport manager to master.

How much do airport managers make?

The average base salary of an airport manager is ₹25,906 per month. The salary may vary based on the size and location of the airport and the scale of its operations. Since the airport manager's role is crucial to the success of an airport, their salary potential also improves with their experience.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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