Sectors in travel: Aviation
The travel industry is full of career possibilities, but when it comes to working in the aviation sector, the sky really is the limit.
There is a wide range of roles available at airlines and airports to meet all skill sets. Jobs range from the pilot flying the aircraft and the cabin crew serving passengers to the call centre agents and the check‑in teams, maintenance engineers, baggage handlers and security teams on the ground at the airport.
If you want to travel the world, possess good customer service skills and enjoy interacting with the general public, working as cabin crew could be just the job for you.
If you prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, airlines and airports require staff to work across their businesses in positions that cover IT, finance, HR, sales, customer service, advertising, marketing and public relations.
Airlines have thousands of employees based in lots of different locations, including regional hubs in the UK and overseas, as well as at their head office.
Some operate as scheduled airlines – often known as full‑service carriers – and may offer checked baggage, inflight meals and different classes of seats as part of the ticket price. There are also no-frills or budget airlines, which tend to operate on short-haul and domestic routes.
Airlines owned by holiday companies operate charter flights for their sister tour operators and travel agencies. Some of their routes are seasonal, depending on the destination.
There’s also the corporate travel sector, where companies own or charter aircraft for business trips.
If working at an airport attracts you, there are numerous jobs available. These range from working in shops or airport lounges, to being part of air traffic control teams that guide pilots on and off the runway; engineers who oversee aircraft safety; airport security guards; and ground-handling staff who look after baggage and passengers to keep airports running smoothly.
is a 17-year-old student at the aviation academy at North Yorkshire’s Craven College, and a junior duty support officer at Leeds Bradford airport
“I’ve wanted to become an air traffic controller from an early age. I lost my mum to suicide in 2017, which has made me even more determined to achieve my goals.
“I started studying for a Level 2 City & Guilds aviation course. I am now studying for an NCFE Level 3 in Travel and Tourism with an aviation qualification.
“Once I have completed this course, I will be old enough to start the qualification processes I need to become an air traffic controller. I volunteered at Leeds Bradford airport, clocking up more than 100 hours. I am now employed as a junior duty support officer, which I do after my coursework and at weekends.
“My goals are to become a duty support officer, before becoming an airport duty manager, then achieving my final goal of becoming an air traffic controller.”
“I would advise anyone at my stage in life to be bold and to go for what you want to achieve. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and those around you. Don’t listen to the people who are being negative and pulling you down – go for what you believe in.”
became the UK’s youngest qualified commercial pilot at 18, and now works as a pilot in the corporate sector
“I used to travel quite a bit with my family when I was younger. In high school, I began to look into aviation and the curiosity built up a passion for the industry.
“As a first-generation pilot, I had no clue how to start. I went to the Egnatia Aviation training school in Greece. When I graduated, I had recently turned 18, and it was just before the Covid pandemic struck. As a result, the industry went in the wrong direction for pilots who had recently graduated.
“But I saw a massive boom in the corporate market, where a lot of people were travelling on private jet.
“I’m doing what I love and what I have a passion for. It feels weird to say ‘I’m going to work’. I prefer to say ‘I’m going to fly’, as it doesn’t feel like work. And with corporate aviation, you never know where you’ll be flying to.”
“A lot of people see the lifestyle that pilots live, but there’s a lot of sacrifice to get to that level. When I was doing my training, I didn’t have a life for 18 months – it was just studying and hard work. Get into it only because it’s something you truly love.”