A few words with Jaleene Ciriales, SWISS Duty Station Manager at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York.
Jaleene, what does your job involve?
The main tasks of the duty station manager are decision-making with regard to operations and guest services. We also oversee quality control and implement new procedures among staff without compromising security and safety protocols. And we communicate with all the interfaces involved – ramp, cleaning, security, check-in, gate, dispatch, crew, maintenance, catering and JFK Terminal 4 management – throughout the day, to ensure smooth and on-time departures.
And how long have you been doing this?
I used to work for Swissport in San Francisco, where I was a supervisor on the SWISS account. I became a SWISS Deputy Station Manager there under Hallmark Aviation Services in April 2015; and I moved to JFK to become a SWISS employee and a Duty Station Manager that November.
What do you like most about the job?
I like working at the airport: there’s never a dull moment, and the teamwork that we have here at JFK is extraordinary.
What are the main challenges in your day-to-day work?
One of our biggest challenges at JFK is repositioning one of our aircraft from the gate to the hard stand and back. LX 16, our first arrival, becomes LX 15, our last departure. So after LX 16 has had its baggage and cargo unloaded, the aircraft is repositioned to a hard stand. And around 19:00 we will bring the aircraft back from the hard stand to a gate. The main challenge here is coordinating and communicating with Swissport’s ops control for wing walkers to be available at both the gate and the hardstand positions. We’ve also had days when it’s taken more than an hour for rampers to attach the stairs and the ground power unit. Our maintenance personnel are stuck inside the aircraft, and our cleaners can’t get on board to start cleaning because there aren’t any stairs!
Winter operations have been quite a challenge at JFK recently. And you also had a burst water pipe to contend with. How did you handle all that?
Day by day. We had to forget what “normal” operations felt like, especially in the aftermath of the storm. Being without our usual resources, with each new obstacle we had to find solutions on a situational basis, and with out-of-the-box thinking. Charmaine, Lloyd and I have a good foundation, though, and we helped each other survive that very challenging week. It was very exhausting, mentally and physically. But we also got a lot of support from the Passenger Care Centre, the Ground Services Care Centre, the NOC and our crew members. And the JFK check-in agents and the gate, ramp and bag room people all did a fantastic job, too, in handling the irregularities.
And finally: what do you like most about working for SWISS?
The camaraderie and the teamwork. It doesn’t matter what department you work for or where in the world you’re stationed, there’s always professionalism and mutual respect. We treat each other as family: that’s what I like about working with SWISS.
Text: Claudia Krahe