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What Is the Typical Organizational Structure of an Airline?

Flight attendants and pilots are in the operational group of an airline.
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  • Written By: Geri Terzo
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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The typical organizational structure of an airline is likely to include several layers of management. It might also extend to business lines that are related but that go beyond traditional airline services. An airline might be separated by sales and flight operations, for example, and there might be participation of and communication between the heads of these divisions to create a more efficient business. Airline management in any region should support compliance with federal standards for the industry. It's also possible for the typical organizational structure to evolve with the changing needs of the industry.

Hierarchical structures at an airline can become increasingly complex as an organization expands. An expansion could be the result of industry consolidation, where one airline purchases an another, or it could include the addition of new services. The results of either one often lead to a larger workforce and additional customers, all of which requires greater resources and often the addition of layers of management to sustain.

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A chief executive officer (CEO) is often at the head of a hierarchical structure at an airline. Through this executive, any and all major decisions are made. The CEO is not the only manager involved, but he or she has a hand in major decisions. A chief financial officer (CFO) is involved with creating value for shareholders, measuring the financial performance at a company and determining how financial performance can be improved. Typically, a publicly traded airline will include a board of directors, which are a group of individuals who vote on major decisions at an airline.

Sales and marketing professionals typically are grouped similarly. On the operations side are pilots, flight attendants and maintenance workers. It is possible for the organizational structure of an airline to be expanded as needed.

Social media is increasingly becoming important for airlines. Companies use the Internet to promote deals, to spark the interest of customers and to receive feedback from the public. The social media department or group might be combined into part of marketing operations and could include only a handful of staff members, but these individuals can still have a significant impact on the airline.

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