Having started my career as an air transport apprentice with Swissair at Geneva Airport in July 1992, I have since worked in Passenger Services, Operations, Marketing and Sales in many different locations all over the globe. My airline career has given me a unique opportunity to see the world, and it’s been exciting all the way.
After Geneva and two stays abroad which were part of my training, I moved to Zurich. There I was given the opportunity of a few more short stays abroad, as a “station relief”. Dakar, Yaoundé and Douala were all exciting places that I got to work in for a couple of weeks. By this time I was sure that living in a foreign country was what I wanted to do. And a few months later I was offered a more permanent posting to a station which I would have to set up and open, too: Skopje in Macedonia. That was quite a challenge for a 25-year-old! I also took temporary care of our station in Pristina from my Skopje base. A few years later I moved on to Dar es Salaam; and now I’m in Tel Aviv. It’s all been a great life experience. And it’s given me an amazing treasure chest of different cultures and friends all around the world.
My current job is very interesting: no two days are alike. One day it’s the challenge of an operational problem; the next it’s a political or a security issue. There’s never a dull moment in the life of a station manager!
I do five or six shifts a week: four day shifts and one or two night shifts. The day shifts are from 09:00 to 17:30, and the night shifts are from 01:00 to 07:00. With a day shift I’ll start with a few hours of office work, which may include meetings with some of our service providers. And around four hours of each shift are devoted exclusively to the flight operation and to our customers.
I have a first look at both the inbound and the outbound flights when I start my shift, seeing who’s flying and trying to identify any potential problems or actions that may need to be taken. Then, one hour before the check-in starts, I prepare the flight itself. I look at all the top, First Class and connecting passengers and prepare our information on these customers for the flight briefing. The check-in takes about two hours in all; and I’m present at the desks for most of this time, to greet and help our customers.
Although we have short turnaround times, I try to meet the incoming aircraft if possible to greet our regular customers. Judging by their smiles and the warm handshakes I get, this direct contact is much appreciated. It makes both our local and our foreign customers feel at home at Ben Gurion Airport. And for our premium customers this personal contact is especially important, as such personalized service enables us to meet most of their wishes and needs.
I work hand-in-hand with our Sales organization in Israel, paying special attention and making things go smoothly at the airport for our major commercial accounts. I also give regular feedback to Sales and Customer Relations about any customer comments and requests regarding our product or other sales issues. This first-hand feedback is very useful, and needs to be listened to carefully!
Most of the time my contacts with our premium customers take the form of a personal greeting. And, if it’s a busy day, we may discreetly try to give them a certain priority to cut their waiting time. We also know their preferences, so we can give them exactly the seat or the product they want without them having to ask.
Needless to say, our premium travellers – and indeed all our customers – very much appreciate it when we organize a surprise event at check-in. For the Purim holiday, for instance – the celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people – our check-in staff and I put on funny costumes and hand out pastries. As The Airline of Switzerland, we naturally also make a point of celebrating the Swiss National Day on 1 August. And we’ve occasionally organized a birthday surprise for one of our top customers, too.
Working with people has always been my passion. And my work with SWISS really is my dream job. Right now I’m in Israel, and I hope to stay here for a few more years. But who knows where the winds may carry me next?