What does your job entail at Manchester Airport?
The terminal duty manager (TDM) role covers the overall day-to-day management of all operational aspects. I monitor the standards and performance of both the airport’s own systems and our tenants. We have special events such as large sporting fixtures and VIP visits, which require careful planning and precise execution on the day.
The TDM also liaises with control authorities such as the police and the UK Border Agency, and is involved with the security management of incidents. In emergency situations the TDM will be the focal point of communications.
What does the daily routine of a TDM involve?
A TDM has no real daily routine, as every day throws up different events and challenges. I’ve been in the job for 21 years and I find myself learning new things each and every day.
Each of our three terminals is very different in their nature, and being involved with all of them means that any recognisable routine usually doesn’t apply.
What is your favourite part of the job?
The unpredictability is what makes it so interesting. I am always being challenged and I enjoy feeling as if I’m living close to the edge. The airport environment is now more challenging than ever due to various events in the past decade, and the job is never boring as a result. I also love meeting new and interesting people – members of the public as well as the more high-profile passengers.
And the least favourite?
Dealing with bereavement is unfortunately quite a regular occurrence at a large airport. Assisting grieving and upset family members doesn’t get any easier. Over the years, terrorist attacks abroad and natural disasters have also made the role difficult, especially when it comes to managing relief flight arrivals for affected passengers.
Recently, the demise of several airlines and holiday companies overnight has also led to uncomfortable situations with passengers. They have arrived at the airport expecting to start their holiday to be told that their holiday is now cancelled and they should expect to be out of pocket. Breaking the bad news is not easy.
Unfortunately, some passengers are still unaware of the issues that suspicious or unattended baggage can cause. Having to manage an incident and oversee evacuation of passengers when you would love them to be getting on their flights can be very frustrating.
What ambitions do you have for your career at Manchester Airport?
I almost feel that I’m walking into a new job each day. When I started at Manchester we had around six million passengers a year and now that figure is almost 20 million. I’m really keen to see the airport grow, both in terms of passenger numbers and with upcoming projects such as a new air traffic control tower in 2013 and the development of ‘Airport City’ [an expansion project that turns the airport into a ‘mini city’] in the longer term.
A new chief executive started at the Manchester Airports Group last October, and it feels like a really exciting time to be at the airport.