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How to Create an Invoice for Airlines and Aviation

May 18, 2024
AuthorGavin Bales
How to Create an Invoice for Airlines and Aviation

A successful aviation business hinges not only on smooth operations but also on meticulous financial management. At the heart of your business – irrespective of whether you provide airline services, manage an airport, sell aircrafts or partake in aerospace manufacturing – is the precise, prompt, and proficient creation of invoices. The stature and scale of aviation further underline this criticality. This article aims at enhancing your skills in generating, managing and maintaining aviation invoices. It will walk you through the nuances of aviation invoicing, the essentials to incorporate knowing their significance, creating industry-specific invoice templates and quickening the payment process.

Definition and Importance

An invoice is a critical business document, serving as a bill for goods and services provided and a record keeping tool. In the airlines and aviation industry, an invoice can cover an array of services such as flight charges, baggage handling fees, and maintenance services. It’s a vital tool in ensuring accountability, transparency and the timely payment for services provided.

Considering the unique nature of the airlines and aviation sector, correct invoicing is an essential practice for seamless business operations. For small and medium-sized companies in this industry, freelancers offering their services, and accountants looking after these tasks, understanding how to appropriately create an airline invoice is integral. It facilitates accurate financial record-keeping, aids in tracking payments and missed payments, assists in resolving disputes, and serves as evidence in legal matters.

Overlooking the importance of proficient invoicing in the aviation industry can pose monumental implications, significantly affecting profitability and business reputation. Therefore, gaining mastery in creating detailed, accurate, and timely invoices is fundamental, not only to survive but thrive in the competitive aviation market.

Key Steps or Methods

Becoming proficient in creating invoices for airlines and aviation is a unique skill that demands a proper understanding of industry requirements. Here’s a step-by-step guide for creating these specific invoices.


The first step is the initial consultation with the client or your company’s flight department. In this meeting, you must meticulously understand the requirements, including the flight details, fuel costs, catering costs, the number of passengers, and any other miscellaneous charges that may apply. Remember to establish the billing cycle right from the start – daily, weekly, or monthly as per the agreement.


After understanding the specifics, the next step involves detailing all the charges clearly. Every invoice should be itemized to avoid misunderstanding. Outline charges such as fuel costs, landing fees, aircraft rental charges, insurance fees, in-flight catering costs, and any applicable maintenance fees. If there are specific state taxes, don’t forget to include those.


Pricing calculations in aviation invoices should be based on the concept of ‘block hours’. Take into account the aircraft’s engine running time from the moment it moves for the purpose of flight until it comes to rest at the end of the flight. Don’t calculate it based on the aircraft’s flight time. This method takes into account the costs of handling the aircraft on the ground.


Using an aviation finance software can simplify invoice creation. There are many packages available that are designed specifically for aviation. These software platforms offer automated invoice creation, digital invoice submission, and real-time updates and reminders to ensure payments are made promptly.


Before sending the invoice to the client, double-check everything. In the aviation industry, making a small mistake can impact your credibility and create unnecessary disputes.


After creating and validating the invoice, it is critical to adhere to the agreed payment terms, whether it’s Net 30, Net 60, or otherwise. If the invoice is delayed, it might disrupt the cash flow of the client’s company, and this can sour your business relationship.


Follow up with a thank you note once the payment is received. This not only maintains a professional demeanor but also strengthens your working relationship with the client. Remember, maintaining good relationships with clients should always be a priority in the aviation industry.

Creating an aviation invoice is not as daunting as it sounds. The key is to understand the industry specifics, accurately calculate costs, and communicate everything clearly. By adheriting to these steps, you’ll maintain credibility and foster long-lasting relationships with your aviation clients.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Creating invoices for the airlines and aviation industry often feels like navigating through a turbulent weather with myriad of challenges popping up left, right, and center. The first hurdle is the complexity of the sector. Given the multiple layers of taxes, compliances, varied rates, and fluctuating fuel costs, invoice creation becomes a herculean task. To tackle this, I recommend using a comprehensive invoicing software that can automate tax calculations, cost adjustments, and adhere to compliance standards, saving you both time and potential errors.

Secondly, airlines often deal with customers from different geographical locations, making it essential to create invoices in multiple currencies. Errors in currency conversions can lead to significant revenue leakage. Here, an invoicing solution capable of multi-currency support comes to the rescue. It not only simplifies cross-border transactions but also mitigates currency conversion errors.

The third challenge is the lack of clarity on Payment Terms. Misunderstanding or incorrect information about the terms often leads to payment delays. To solve this, ensure that the invoice clearly states the payment terms, late payment penalties, and applicable discounts for early payments. It’s also wise to send the invoice promptly after providing the service to ensure quick payment.

Another common hiccup is dealing with refunds and cancellations. Given the volatile nature of the aviation sector, changes are often the order of the day. Regularly updating your invoice to reflect these changes is crucial to avoid disputes. If a flight is cancelled or rescheduled, promptly issue a credit memo to the client showing a reduction in their payable amount.

Finally, the lack of a proper system to handle past-due invoices can negatively impact the cash flow. Implement an effective follow-up system that reminds customers about the due payments and importantly, do not shy away from charging interest on overdue payments.

Remember, a well-crafted invoice is not merely a payment request; it’s a communication tool that can significantly affect customer relationships and your organization’s financial health.

Red Flags

In my professional experience, drafting an invoice for airlines and aviation can be a complex task. There are several red flags and warning signs you should look out for to ensure your invoice maintains its professional integrity and financial accuracy.

Firstly, be vigilant about the correct identification of aircraft parts and services. Aviation-specific technical jargon and specific part numbers are commonly used. If you are unsure, seek guidance before issuing the invoice. Any mistakes can lead to confusion, disputes, or even legal complications.

Secondly, scrutinize the tax calculations. Dealing with international transactions, which are quite common in aviation, often involve complex tax issues. Incorrect application or calculation of Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST) could lead to significant financial and even legal repercussions. Be particularly thorough when researching the tax laws for each specific country involved in the transaction.

Another red flag arises when dealing with exchange rates. Due to the global nature of the aviation industry, invoices can often include multiple currencies. Ensure you use the right exchange rate and clearly indicate this on the invoice. Dramatic fluctuations in currency rates could impact the value of the transaction.

Maintaining accuracy of man-hour calculations is vital, especially when invoicing for maintenance, repair, or overhaul services. Underquoting can result in loss to your business, while overcharging can cause conflicts with clients. A detailed and accurate record of service hours can help avoid this pitfall.

Lastly, pay keen attention to payment terms and follow up on overdue payments promptly. The aviation sector can be prone to cash flow issues – late payments can often serve as an early hint. An effective practice is to agree on payment terms upfront and consistently communicate these through all the stages of invoicing.

Creating an invoice for the aviation sector can be a challenging process. Avoid the red flags and ensure you maintain a keen eye for detail, and the process will run much more smoothly.

Case Studies or Examples

As a financial advisor with extensive experience working with airlines and aviation companies, I’ve dealt with a plethora of invoicing scenarios. Let me share some of these to give you a deeper understanding.

A regional airline, we’ll call it Air Regional, requested help creating a unified invoicing system. Their invoices previously lacked uniformity and were often filled with operational jargon, leading to confusion amongst stakeholders. I recommended the use of a billing software to ensure standardised, comprehensive invoices that are easy to understand for all recipients. The change was transformative. Their invoice disputes significantly decreased, and payments sped up due to the clarity provided by the invoices.

Another example involved a maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) provider for aviation companies, MRO Providers Inc. Their challenge was invoicing for complex repairs and maintenance tasks, where the bill could change due to unexpected complications or parts needed. It was critical for them to list details transparently within each invoice to mitigate disputes. To solve this, we implemented an invoicing system which included ‘Audit Logs’. This ensured changes could be tracked and justified, minimizing disputes and increasing trust between MRO Providers Inc and their clients.

Finally, a cautionary tale from Jet Catering Co., a company providing in-flight catering services. They faced regular late payments due to vague invoice due dates. We introduced stricter parameters by clearly stating ‘Net 30’ or ‘Net 60’ along with a discount incentive for early payment. Unfortunately, this advice was ignored, and the late payments continued, impacting their cash flow negatively.

The common thread in these examples is clear – precision in invoicing is essential. Avail of technology where possible, provide detailed break-downs and have clear terms and deadlines to ensure smooth cash flow in your aviation business.


In conclusion, we’ve seen that creating invoices for airlines and aviation is a precision-oriented task requiring comprehensive understanding of not only the industry’s specifics, but also financial best practices. The importance of including every detail from passenger or cargo information, flight details, to additional services, cannot be overstated. Moreover, leveraging industry-specific invoice templates can significantly streamline the process, ensuring compliance, accuracy and professionalism. As a stakeholder in the aviation business, accurate invoicing isn’t just crucial, it’s obligatory – it aids in transparent financial management, cash flow control, and enhances professional relationships with clients. Therefore, don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted, precise invoice. I urge you to incorporate the knowledge shared in this guide. Indeed, success in the aviation industry demands attentiveness to detail, which is reflected immensely in the quality of your invoices.