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How can one get into network planning with airlines?


Badi Sheffey Miami, FL

After getting out and spending several years in school, I've got an interest in doing network planning in the airlines industry.
What would be the best moves in terms of studies, certifications, locations, employers, etc?

-Thank you all for your input.

4 November 2021 3 replies Career Exploration



Matt Johnson Chicago, IL

Hi Badi,

I actually applied for a "Network Planning, Scheduling, & Strategy" internship at United Airlines in 2019 while still in business school at the University of Chicago. I ended up doing strategy consulting instead, but I do know that United Airlines and others look for these roles out of top-tier MBA programs.

Airline network planning is especially a wicked optimization model which one can learn with basic decision modeling. Tools like Excel are helpful and there's open source materials you can leverage:

So the path would be as follows:
1. Undergraduate degree in business or STEM major from a well-regarded school (brand matters - so target US News Top 50). Most vets self-select out of great schools because they don't realize how much discipline and grit will help them academically.

2. Score 90 %-ile or higher on GMAT/GRE - these entrance exams WILL submit to force of will. It's not how smart you are, it's how well you know the test

3. Apply to a Top 25 MBA program - you can check employment reports to see where the airlines hired. is an excellent resource and will support you through testing discounts, resume writing, and essay formulation.

4. Attend MBA Veterans Conference (American Airlines, among others, hires out of here)

5. Apply to Network Strategist roles at your target airlines (be sure to take some excel courses before B-school since recruiting starts within 6 weeks and you'll need those for the interview)

6. Make the big bucks (base salary will be >$135k out the gate and the summer internship is paid at the same monthly rates)

It's a long road and there's no guarantee you'll stick the landing on your first try, but even if you falter, you'd still have world-class opportunities.



James Watters Norman, OK

Sergeant Sheffey - the information below is a great first step. Good luck

Airline Network Strategy - Embark Aviation

Airline Network Planning encompasses leveraging internal airline data, external industry data, and other economic trends to develop a profitable network strategy. ... In addition to route forecasting, airline network planning is a continuous process that evaluates the full horizon of an airline's open schedule.

Airline network planning also involves the continuous optimization of individual routes – pulling together the collaborative efforts of Revenue Management, Network Planning, Scheduling, Market Profitability, and Marketing. Network Planning evaluates each component and works with teams to constantly maximize performance.

In addition to route forecasting, airline network planning is a continuous process that evaluates the full horizon of an airline’s open schedule. Our airline partners leverage our experience in everything from short-term frequency planning to long term strategic plans.


ACP AdvisorNet Staff New York, NY

Hi Badi,

I would recommend looking under the "community" tab and searching for an advisor that has an aviation background (you can search people by industry). There is a direct message feature there as well and they may be able to advise on this!

I also found this article on that has some tips on how to start out!

Hope this helps!


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