The Ground Operations team here at Monarch is dedicated to make your airport experience as smooth as possible. From handling unexpected disruptions to developing great relationships with ground handling agents, the role of a Ground Operations Officer is one of the most varied you’ll find in the business! I have caught up with Jamie to learn more about what he gets up to on a daily basis. Enjoy!
Hi Jamie, thanks for your time! First off, what’s your background?
I was born and raised in Birmingham and went to The International School where I studied Travel & Tourism and Business. I worked in Midlands Co-op Travel Agency for nearly four years, after which I started my journey with Monarch at Birmingham airport as an Airport Customer Experience Host. After over two years in the airport, I moved to Luton in 2014 to progress in my career with Monarch as a Ground Operations Officer.
If your friends described you in three words, they would say…
Funny, Crazy and Honest.
When did your passion for aviation start?
My passion for aviation began when I chose it as a course in school. I was instantly interested in all areas of the industry. When I left school in 2008 I started an apprenticeship with Midlands Co-op Travel Agency where I sold holidays, flights and travel services to customers. I really enjoyed finding the best holidays for my customers and making sure they got the best value for money. In 2012, due to the company closing stores, I decided to find a new challenge with Monarch.
What made you want to work for Monarch?
I wanted to work for Monarch as I felt the company understood the needs of its customers. I also loved the family feel.
Why did you choose to work in Ground Operations?
I enjoy the buzz and the atmosphere of airports. The department is so complex and we work with many other departments and other areas of aviation, so the knowledge you can gain has no boundaries.
What does your day-to-day job consist of?
As a Ground Operations Officer, I have a dual-based role. For two months I work in the IOC (24-hour Integrated Operations Centre) handling on-the-day issues across all five of our UK bases and 31 overseas airports. During the day and overnight we work with our Operations team to ensure all airport issues are resolved to achieve on-time departure, and to minimise disruption to our customers. If there is a delay, we ensure we provide the correct customer welfare, updates, support and care.
The other two months I’m based in Head Office, looking after my dedicated airports. Our overseas airports are visited based on volume of flights and performance. For instance, our top six high-customer-volume airports are visited every two weeks. During these visits, we build a great relationship with our ground handling agents and airport authorities and observe all the customer touch points throughout the airports to ensure our customers have a safe, smooth and on-time departure. We also have an oversight and complete regular checks on movement around the aircraft during turnaround to ensure vehicles and equipment operate to our safety and compliance procedures accordingly to ensure our staff are working in a safe environment. For the past 12 months I have looked after Malaga, Gibraltar, Almeria, Turkey and Israel but now the Canary Islands, and Crete will be my dedicated airports for summer 2016.
What are some of the challenges of the job?
When we are based in the Operations department, we face challenges on a daily basis. We have to be ready for anything that could affect our operation at either our UK or overseas airports. This could be anything as small as a passport query for a customer or a baggage issue, to anything as big as a diverted flight or a delayed flight where we have to make sure our customers receive as much communication from us as possible. We also need to ensure they are provided with welfare such as refreshment vouchers and accommodation (depending on the length of the delay).
When we’re based overseas, every airport is different so we have to adapt our product to the airport but still ensure we remain consistent with what we offer to our customers. We also face challenges with potential flight delays, and our responsibility is to think of alternatives and work with our ground handling agents and the airport authorities to improve the service or prevent these from happening in the future.
What gives you the most satisfaction in the job?
The most satisfaction I have in my job is when I see good results. It is such a good feeling when I walk out of the office at the end of the day knowing I have made a difference. I enjoy providing customer care during disruption and ensuring our customers know we are doing everything we can to prevent as much inconvenience to them as possible. I also enjoy when I make suggestions to my dedicated airports and we work together to improve something we offer as an airline.
What keeps you motivated to enjoy your job?
Seeing the airports I look after perform well motivates me. Also, when something isn’t done the right way, it motivates me to learn from it and implement something to ensure it is completed the right way in future.
What do you love the most about it?
I love how every single day is different. You never know what the next phone call will be about. There are so many different questions I could be asked and if I don’t know the answer, I need to find it out – which is great as it means I am learning new things every day.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
One of them has to be becoming a finalist as Young Travel Professional in the UK through a travel trade group which worked with travel agencies throughout the UK whilst I was an apprentice. Another one of my proudest achievements was assisting with the launch of our flights to Tel Aviv in December 2015. I was involved with assisting our handling agents in preparation for the Monarch operation which was due to commence and ensuring they had full support and Monarch training.
Any advice for those thinking or pursuing a career similar to yours?
My advice would be to never be afraid to ask questions, spend as much time with people in various departments as you can, else you will never know how they work. Also, get involved with every opportunity you can!
On Monarch’s scheduled network, which is your favourite destination and why?
My favourite Monarch destination has to be Turkey. I love the food, the weather, and the people. I first visited there when I worked in the Travel Agency and toured all resorts on the Mediterranean, this is when I discovered the Turkish Kebab and insisted on visiting every year. I was then lucky enough to have the Turkish airports as part of my dedicated airports which I visited last year and worked with them. Following closely behind would be Tel Aviv.