Amongst the many roles you will find at Monarch, Andrea certainly has a very interesting one! Born and bred in sunny Venice, read what brought him all the way to Luton and what he gets up to on a daily basis…
Hi Andrea! Let’s start with something interesting about you…
I spent the first 27 years of my life in Venice before moving to London to pursue a career in commercial aviation. During those years was been forged by a multitude of different interests. I’ve been a scout, a full-time sprinter, a Trekkie, a biker, an aspiring tailor and astrophysicist, a student, an entrepreneur and many other things that helped me grow up. But more than everything else I was an aviation enthusiast and a pilot wannabe. Immediately after high school I started working with my father in theatres – not as an actor, but as a technician responsible for the magic behind the scenes. I was his partner and managed the company for a few years. Although it was a fascinating experience, I always felt that it wasn’t my path so I decided to further my education and attended university to study Economics. Once I graduated, nothing could stop me from jumping on a plane to London and be a step closer to aeroplanes.
If your friends described you in three words, they would say…
They would never openly admit, it but I know that deep inside they see me as a loyal, passionate and supportive friend with far too many passions and eclectic abilities.
When did your passion for aviation start?
I cannot exactly remember when, but I do perfectly remember why. It all started when my grandfather took me to watch aircraft taking off from Marco Polo airport in Venice. There was a tiny trail close to the water that ran parallel to the runway. We used to cycle there and sit on a bench watching all those incredible machines climbing before our eyes. I still have this vivid image in my mind of a long, slim aircraft that was the loudest of them all and had a livery with a lot of green in it: the MD-80 AKA ‘mad dog’, flying for the Italian flagship carrier Alitalia. Green happens to be my favourite colour and combined with the powerful sound of the aircraft’s engines and its peculiar shape I fell in love with it. That brief sight of the mad dog triggered the desire to become a pilot and subsequently my passion for aviation. Admittedly, the film Top Gun was also a huge contributory factor a few years later.
Why did you choose to work for Monarch?
When I landed my first job at Monarch I was looking to further my career within an airline. Then, my knowledge of Monarch was limited to the few details I had collected before the interview. What immediately captivated me was the strong reputation of being a customer-centric airline who deeply cares about its passengers. Now, what makes me want to stay with Monarch is the respectful and supportive work environment that ultimately translates in respect and superior service we all proud ourselves to deliver to our passengers.
How long have you been working for Monarch?
I’ve been working for Monarch since December 2014 when I started as a Ground Operations Officer.
What does your day-to-day job consist of?
One of the benefits of my current role is its variety, each day is different and new challenges keep rising. On an average day I may turn up at the airport early in the morning to inspect the aircraft and make sure they are ready to accommodate our crew and passengers. Subsequently I tend to supervise the departures of the busiest or critical flights, the ones that are more likely to struggle departing on time. Later in the day I normally have meetings with service providers, airport authorities and colleagues from different departments. Interacting with people around the business is fundamental to keep the operation going as smooth and safe as possible. Ground Operations are a fantastic example of the proverbial “blanket too short” and we need a delicate balance to keep the performance up to a satisfactory level. The last portion of the day is normally dedicated to office work. There are always forms to fill, checklists to complete, reports to write and safety investigations to follow up. In addition to all of these tasks I always make sure I have the time to analyse all our source of data aiming to keep our KPIs under control. Between all these things I am currently under training to make a decent tea with milk… no bread and butter for me!
What are some of the challenges of the job?
You can summarise my role’s challenges in two points: uncontrollable variables and stand-alone consistency. To explain the former you have to imagine the ground operations as an intricate puzzle, formed by many pieces that keep changing shape and size, and very few of them are under your direct control. We operate in airports shared with several other airlines, where a multitude of different service providers and stakeholders have to be orchestrated to make sure our flights depart on time and safely. We can do all the right things and yet someone else’s problem can suddenly become your problem. Not even mentioning how all airports and airspaces are interconnected and how much we can suffer locally from complications generated hundreds of miles away.
The stand-alone consistency is even more difficult to achieve and it is all about creating the right conditions to make sure our operations are robust and the performance reliable on the long term without any direct involvement. It would be easy for me to get caught with the daily operations on the ramp but if I did so I would lose control of the bigger picture; ultimately my presence around our aircraft could become essential and this is not a desirable scenario. We have several service providers that look after our passengers and aircraft at the airport and they all aim to deliver a wonderful service to our customers. The stand-alone consistency can only be achieved by creating the right synergies between these players and making sure they operate autonomously in the right environment to express their potential.
What gives you the most satisfaction in the job?
My role in Luton allows me to make a tangible difference to our customers and to the business. I am convinced that working on the continuous improvement of Monarch’s performance means offering the best possible service to our customers and the best working conditions for our crew. I find gratification in knowing that I have an active role on this important aspect of the airline.
What keeps you motivated to enjoy your job?
There are three fundamental aspects that keep me motivated. Firstly, I like the people I work with, they are all exceptional professionals with a lot of inspiring experience. Secondly, I am learning new things every day therefore I’m widening my sphere of knowledge. Thirdly, I still have to achieve the results I have set for myself and I believe I have all resources and tools to do it.
What do you love the most about it?
I enjoy its focus. I dedicate my time and resources to one single airport, develop strong relationships, understand and live within the local environment every day. Being in close contact with the people you work with and immersing yourself into the airport gives you a different perspective and opens up a multitude of opportunities.
But there is something else that I deeply love: it is the privilege of arriving early in the morning before anyone else, going to find one of our aircraft, being the first to open its door and spending a few minutes sitting in the flight deck, in silence. For someone who once dreamt of being a pilot it is something special!
What are some of your proudest achievements?
As strange it may sound, being successful in the selection process for my current role is something that I am particularly proud of. This is exactly the career progression I wanted and I remember I felt a huge sense of achievement the day I was told I got the job! On a less personal note when I was dealing with the overseas airports, I managed to obtain a substantial change on the stands allocation in two of our busiest destinations. This resulted in a better airport experience for our passengers and an improved punctuality of our flights. It wasn’t an easy task convincing the local authorities and I felt great about it!
Any advice for those thinking or pursuing a career similar to yours?
Commercial aviation is an old style industry based more on experience and practical knowledge rather than academic background, especially the operational side of it. There are no shortcuts and you have to work your way up the ladder. My advice is to start from check-in and move to aircraft dispatch as quick as possible, avoid laziness and take all opportunities to do more, to learn more and to gain knowledge as fast as you can. It is a competitive industry and you need to be always a step ahead of your peers if you want to stand out. On the flip side there is no room for individualism in aviation, it is truly always a team work and you need to find the right balance.
Thank you for your time, Andrea! One last question…on Monarch’s scheduled network, which is your favourite destination and why?
If I have to choose only one destination it will definitely be Venice. I was born there and for me it is still my other-home! Plus it is a perfect gateway to the Dolomites which are a spectacle. This being said, Menorca is a stunning destination for its waters… just beware of the jellyfish!