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Aviation industry

Research guide

Published: 07 Mar 2019 Updated: 16 Nov 2023 Update History

Exclusive content
Access to our exclusive resources is for specific groups of students, members and subscribers.

Use our industry guide to find key background information, market research, import and export guidelines, statistics, legislation, trade bodies and trade publications.

The Business & Industry Guides series is produced by the Library & Information Service for ICAEW members and ACA students.

We can compile tailored key players reports, mailing lists, market reports, benchmarking reports and industry news. Our enquiry team can also research other industry-specific information, such as taxation, for you. Call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

Trends and forecasts

Online articles

The library provides full access to articles from leading business, finance and management journals.

Access to articles is provided subject to suppliers’ terms of use.

Useful links

Airlines: Riding the recovery
Annual publication from KPMG providing insights into the commercial aviation industry through a series of in-depth interviews with major aviation leaders on the challenges facing the sector. Areas discussed include the recovery of the industry after the global pandemic and war in Europe, aviation finance, leasing and ESG. Published in January 2023.

Aviation Outlook 2050
Report by Eurocontrol providing forecasts for flights in Europe to 2050 based on three different scenarios for economic growth. Also includes estimates of net CO2 emissions with insights into how aviation can move towards the target of net-zero by 2050. Published in April 2022.

Aviation Industry Outlook 2022
Annual publication from PwC Strategy& looking at major trends, challenges and opportunities for commercial airline carriers globally.

Market research

Market research reports focusing on this business sector are available from a number of market research specialists. In most cases these reports are available to fee-paying subscribers or on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Industry profiles and SWOT analyses

Industry profiles give an overview of market size in different countries or regions, the competitive landscape and provide a forecast of market performance. These profiles are available for ICAEW members and ACA students through the Library & Information Service.

Regional reports




Latin America

North America


If you’re looking for industry profiles for regions or countries not listed above, please contact the Library on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

SWOT analyses examining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for major companies operating in this sector are available.

If you experience any problems accessing these resources, please see our online resources troubleshooting FAQ.

Flight International/PwC

PwC produces an annual Top 100 report in collaboration with the publication Flight International giving rankings by sector, performance and revenue. Data and commentary for recent reports are available:

Other market research specialists

Some free information is available from the following market research specialists, ranging from industry news to executive summaries of the reports.

A full listing of reference products and research reports for the travel sector from Euromonitor, with a range of major market profiles country reports on airlines and global air transportation. Each report provides a contents listing and a useful executive summary reporting on the key trends in each country report.

Busines and industry research specialists offering reports on a wide range of sectors, including passenger flights and freight air transport. Report snapshots, table of contents and a sample report are available. The company also produces global industry research reports.

Report from Mintel covering the UK airlines market. The website includes a summary and the option to view a contents listing.

Industry news

Need to find the latest news on this industry sector? We can carry out industry news searches using a range of trade titles and general business sources through our databases. To discuss your requirements, please contact the enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com.

Statistics on the UK

Aerospace Defence Security (ADS)

ADS publishes an annual UK Aerospace Outlook, which gives key trends, turnover, order intake, employment, research and development, international trade, regional trends and information on the UK aerospace industry's global presence.

Centre for the study of Regulated Industries (CRI)

The Centre for the study of Regulated Industries published UK Airports Industry: Airport Statistics annually until its closure as an active research centre in 2010. The latest and previous editions of this report are available to download for free on its statistical series page.

Civil Aviation Authority

The Civil Aviation Authority collects and disseminates statistics and market information about the UK aviation industry including:

Department for Transport

The Department for Transport is a leading source of transport data and publishes a series of aviation statistics, covering:

  • activity at UK airports, including number of flights, passengers and volume of freight handled
  • activity by UK airlines, including distance flown, passengers uplifted, seat occupancy, fleet size and employment
  • summary statistics for major international airports and airlines
  • casualties caused by aviation and air proximity incidents
  • public attitudes to aviation and airport expansion
  • passenger experience of air travel, including security screening.

Office for National Statistics

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics collects financial information covering UK production, construction, distribution and service industries. Statistics available include:

  • number of enterprises;
  • total turnover;
  • approximate gross value added at basic prices;
  • total purchases of goods, materials and services;
  • total employment costs;
  • total net capital expenditure;
  • total net capital expenditure – acquisitions;
  • total net capital expenditure – disposals;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at end of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at beginning of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – increase during year.

The dataset Non-financial business economy, UK: Sections A to S includes statistics for:

  • Manufacturing of air and spacecraft and related machinery (30.3)
    See Section C: Manufacturing
  • Air transport (51)
    See Section H: Transport and storage

Statistics on Europe


Eurostat, the EU statistics hub, collates detailed Structural Business Statistics giving the latest figures for industry, construction, trade and services by sector and country. The indicators available include:

  • number of enterprises
  • turnover or gross premiums written
  • production value
  • value added at factor cost
  • gross operating surplus
  • wages and salaries
  • social security costs
  • gross investment in tangible goods
  • gross investment in land
  • gross investment in existing buildings and structures
  • gross investment in construction and alteration of buildings
  • gross investment in machinery and equipment
  • number of employees
  • number of persons employed per enterprise.

Statistics within the database are available for:

  • Manufacture of air and spacecraft and related machinery (C303)
    See database section ‘SBS – industry and construction’
  • Air transport (H51)
    See database section ‘SBS – services’

Eurostat also compiles a range of data on air transport in the EU, including statistics on infrastructure, equipment, enterprises, economic performance, employment and measurement.

Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe)

ACI Europe provides a range of industry data

Statistics on the Americas

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (US)

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) provides general aviation information and statistics, including data on:

  • FAA certificated pilots by state and certificate type
  • Public- and private-use airports by state
  • Active general aviation aircraft by state
  • General aviation aircraft shipments and registrations
  • General aviation trends
  • General aviation safety record
  • Current accident statistics graphs.

Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman's Airline Economic Analysis 2016-2017 provides economic and performance data for the US aviation industry as well as global capacity growth by region. The report includes:

  • Revenue per available seat mile (RASM)
  • Passenger yield
  • Ancillary revenue
  • Stage-length adjusted revenue per available seat
  • Cost per available seat mile (CASM)
  • Labor cost
  • Jet fuel costs and labor costs
  • Profit margin data
  • Break-even load factors
  • US carrier capacity analysis

Statistics on Asia


ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, produces an annual Statistical Yearbook which includes a chapter on transport and communication. Figures by country cover:

  • number of domestic airports
  • domestic passenger traffic
  • domestic freight traffic
  • number of aircraft traffic
  • number of international airports
  • international passenger traffic
  • cargo loaded
  • cargo unloaded
  • aircraft departures
  • aircraft arrivals.

Statistics on the Middle East

Arab Air Carriers Organization

The Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) provides general statistics on domestic and international freight and passenger traffic.

Global statistics


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) compiles a comprehensive range of industry facts and figures


The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) collects and compiles industrial statistics known as INDSTAT, which give information on:

  • number of employees
  • number of establishments
  • output
  • value added
  • total wages and salaries.

Statistics by country are available for:

  • Aircraft and spacecraft (3530)

UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade)

The UN compiles and publishes international import and export statistics in the Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade), giving figures for goods traded by value, quantity and weight for each country.

Statistics are available for:

  • Aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof (88)

UN Industrial Commodity Statistics Database

The UN provides statistics on the quantity of goods produced by country in the Industrial Commodity Statistics Database.

Figures are available for:

  • Aeroplanes and other aircraft (49)



The annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), published by the Office for National Statistics, includes total employee and employment estimates for different industries for Great Britain and the UK. Figures are broken down to show full-time/part-time and public/private splits. The dataset Industry – Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES): Table 2 includes statistics for:

  • Manufacturing of air and spacecraft and related machinery (303)
  • Passenger air transport (511)
  • Freight air transport and space transport (512)

The Office for National Statistics publication Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) includes average employment costs within this sector which can be found in Table 14. Average employment costs are provided for full-time employees, part-time employees and all employees.

The data includes average employment costs for:

  • air traffic controllers;
  • aircraft pilots and flight engineers;
  • air transport operatives; and
  • air travel assistants.

Other regions

Please see individual country profile pages for links to sources of national statistics.

Legislation and regulation


Gov.uk offers guidance and information on transport regulations and safety, including:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a section on health and safety in air transport which includes latest regulations affecting this industry.

The Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 2018 Committee report Brexit and the implications for UK business: Aerospace inquiry contains a chapter on regulatory alignment.

Law firm Faegre Drinker published an article Regulatory Implications of Brexit on the UK and EU Aerospace Industry in April 2021.

Import and export

Trade Tariff

The Trade Tariff is a useful Gov.uk database listing tax, duties and licenses for the import and export of goods between the UK and other countries. The database is searchable by product or commodity code and results can be filtered by date and country. Information also includes links to relevant conditions and regulations.

See import and export information for:

UK key players, ratios and trends

We can produce reports on this sector using selected information from the FAME company database. Reports are available for:

  • Manufacturing of air and spacecraft and related machinery
    UK SIC (2007) Code 30.30
  • Passenger air transport
    UK SIC (2007) Code 51.10
  • Freight air transport
    UK SIC (2007) Code 51.21

Summaries of the three types of report we can produce are given below. You can find further information, a sample report, pricing details and an online order form on our industry sector reports page.

We also operate a bespoke reports service with results tailored to your specifications. Please contact our enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com to discuss your requirements.

Key players report

Our key players report looks at the top companies (by turnover) in any one of the segments within this sector. Reports usually include the top 100 companies but in more specialised sectors with fewer than 100 companies we show all companies with disclosed figures. The reports provide data on 11 comparative fields for the last available year, including:

  • turnover;
  • profit margins;
  • returns on shareholder funds;
  • solvency ratios
  • number of employees.

Our reports enable easy comparison of the top companies in this sector against each other and against the sector median, average and standard deviation in each of the 11 fields.

Mailing list

A separate mailing list report is also available with address and contact details for the top companies in any of the segments within this sector.

Market reports

Our market reports look at the aggregated data for the top companies (by turnover) for any of the segments within this sector across all the fields usually found in a company report. The reports include data for the last 10 years* and enables easy comparison of trends for the whole sector. Reports usually include the top 100 companies but in more specialised sectors with fewer than 100 companies we show all companies with disclosed figures.

*Please note the number of companies for which data is aggregated will vary for any given year.

The market reports include sections on:

  • key financials and employees;
  • profit and loss account;
  • balance sheet;
  • cash flow statement;
  • financial ratios;
  • financial trends and changes;
  • profitability trends and changes.

UK benchmarking

We offer benchmarking reports that can be used to inform your own business strategy or help you identify value-added services to offer to your clients.

Contact the enquiry team directly on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com for a report tailored to your own specific requirements.

Trade bodies

The websites of trade bodies in this sector are a useful source of industry overviews, contacts and statistics.





Middle East

North America



Trade journals and publications

Trade journals, B2B magazines and specialist consumer magazines are another useful source of news and statistics.

Further reading

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.

You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post or email through our document supply service.

Can't find what you're looking for?

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