A job at the center of the action at the airport? For Melanie Kuijpens, red cap at Swissport Belgium, every day is an adventure. No-one can predict how the workday will evolve. Checking and adjusting load plans, boarding and de-boarding passengers, … As ramp controller or red cap, she keeps a firm grip on the day’s events.
Melanie started her airport career as a cabin crew member for TUI fly. However, a prolongation of her contract involved a transfer to the airport of Charleroi, something she wasn’t keen on. In the past, she had seen ramp controllers performing their duties on tarmac. To her, the job seemed like an interesting challenge, so she took the leap.
“Are you starting as a red cap? Then you will first receive an extensive training”, says Melanie. “This takes about three months. Safety training, obtaining an airport driver’s license, learning how to calculate the balance of an airplane, … After each segment, a test follows.”
“Afterwards you are assigned two mentors. These are experienced colleagues with whom you will be working closely together for about a month and a half. They will teach you the tricks of the trade. Week after week, you carry out more and more tasks independently. In the end there is a practical exam where you handle three different flights. When you succeed, you can finally start.”
A working day for Melanie? It looks slightly different than a 9-to-5 job behind a desk. Her PDA is her best ally. It is an indispensable device with all the information she needs to carry out her tasks: flights, loading plan, number of passengers, radio numbers of colleagues, … Because when something goes wrong, the red cap needs to be in close contact with everyone.
He or she also gives permission for the boarding and de-boarding of the passengers, makes sure the cleaning crew is in place, … and stays in contact with the gate. Are there any missing passengers, then the red cap adjusts the load sheet.
“You have to check many different things, all of which are important. The pilot saves the final calculation of your loadsheet in his onboard computer. Based on these calculations, the computer then gives a signal at what time the pilot needs to pull/push his steering wheel during take-off and landing. Accuracy is of great importance to ensure a good and safe flight.”
Multitasking, logical thinking, stress-resistance and fluent communications in different languages: these are the most important requirements for this job. “But that’s also the fun part“, says Melanie. “No day is the same. You always get other flights and airlines: that variety keeps things interesting. And you are at the center of the action. You are the pivotal figure where all communications depart and arrive. You get to see many different aspects of the airport. It is an extremely fascinating work environment, which is largely unknown to many. I notice that when I talk about my job with my friends, they are hanging on my lips.”
Good work/life balance
Any other reasons why Melanie would recommend a job as red cap? “If you don’t like a 9-to-5 office job, this is ideal. You work in shifts, so you avoid traffic jams and receive a shift bonus. Our planning department takes your preferences into account as much as possible. You can’t complain about the wages either. In addition, Swissport offers you numerous growth opportunities, such as training, flight watching, making load plans,…”
“Another big advantage is the fact that overtime is rare. In summer, your work might take 5 or 10 more minutes, but you can recuperate that time later. When you are at home, you don’t have to think about work at all. The work/life balance is very good.”
A job as red cap?
You lead the ground handling activities in the right direction, and help assure an efficient and timely performance.
You communicate fluently with other services: you are in permanent connection (radio / telephone) with all actors in the field.
You take care of a timely execution of the service package for each client (cleaning, catering, delivery of fuel, loading and unloading, …) and adjust if necessary.
You collect, distribute and process the information needed to prepare the loadsheet (the report that shows how an aircraft is loaded).
Do you enjoy being at center of the action? A job as red cap might be something for you!
Visit this link for more information.
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