Head of External Communications

This broad-ranging role offers an exciting opportunity to join the Airport Operators Association, where you will combine a passion for working with members in a busy trade association with your excellent communication and public affairs skills to promote the AOA’s agenda externally.

About the AOA

Founded in 1934, the AOA is the national trade association representing the interests of UK airports to national and devolved governments, regulatory authorities and other external stakeholders. The AOA’s members include over 40 airports and more than 150 Associate Members, made up of companies representing a wide range of suppliers in the aviation industry.

Job overview

This role will lead the AOA’s public affairs and media strategies, supporting the delivery of the AOA’s overall public affairs and policy agenda in Westminster, Whitehall and the devolved administrations. This will involve working closely with AOA members through the Public Affairs & Communications Network, the AOA Board and the wider AOA team in delivering public affairs and media activity, including policy-related work and event support.

Main objectives of the role:

  • Developing and delivering the AOA’s public affairs and media strategies with a view to enhancing the AOA’s positioning, reputation and political and media relationships across the UK and, where appropriate, in Brussels.
  • Working with the AOA’s members to inform the AOA’s position and to ensure the AOA and its members are aware of potential external communication opportunities and threats through gathering political intelligence.
  • Being a public advocate for AOA positions in political and regulatory arenas as well as the media

Public affairs

  • Leading the AOA’s political relations, party conferences and contact programme activity, including supporting the delivery of the AOA’s events.
  • Participating in campaigns in support of the AOA’s objectives, such as Sustainable Aviation, including building alliances with a wide range of stakeholders
  • Producing accessible and highly effective written materials and briefing notes for Government officials, politicians, AOA members and the AOA team
  • Managing the AOA’s Public Affairs & Communications Network (PACN)
  • Supporting colleagues to develop policy and regulatory positions and to respond to consultations
  • Remaining abreast of aviation (policy) developments and utilising this to adapt the AOA’s external communications strategy

 Media and (internal) communications

  • Leading the AOA’s media relations, both reactive and proactive, including providing timely commentary to national media as well as identifying, pitching and developing stories to national and trade press
  • Maintaining the AOA’s online presence, both its website and social media, with relevant material
  • Supporting the AOA Member Relations & Events manager with communicating the AOA’s work to members
  • Build and cultivate relationships with the AOA’s media contacts

Person specification

You will have an enthusiasm for working as part of a small, collaborative team that punches above its weight. You will help maintain an effective and influential profile for the AOA with a variety of audiences. You will need strong analytical and organisational abilities, combined with excellent written and verbal communication skills. An interest in aviation and/or transport more widely would be desirable.

Essential skills and experience:

  • A track record of effective parliamentary and stakeholder engagement
  • Significant experience of working with media, including media campaign planning
  • Experience of managing effective relationships with senior internal and external stakeholders (including members)
  • Experience of managing and/or engaging with social media platforms on a professional basis
  • Ability to quickly assimilate and simplify complex information and form compelling narratives for media and public affairs audiences
  • Knowledge and understanding of the UK and devolved political environments
  • Aptitude for writing
  • Political sensitivity
  • Ability to work at pace whilst maintaining attention to detail

Desirable skills and experience:

  • An interest in aviation or transport
  • Experience of working in or with a trade association
  • Some experience of acting as a media spokesperson

Place of work

The AOA is based in London, with hybrid working available. Some travel to members’ sites will be required.


Circa £40,000-£45,000, dependent on experience/skills.


To apply, please send an up-to-date CV and a short covering letter (no more than 1 page) outlining why you want to work for the AOA and your suitability for the role. Applications should be sent to patriciapage@aoa.org.uk by the end of Friday 15 July 2022.