The many reasons we love aviation at AirlinePros
By Thommen Jose, Head of Communications, AirlinePros International
Walking through the atrium of the OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, Achma Asokan Foster, our CEO, suddenly veered towards one of the elevators and led me to the third floor. We passed some coffee shops and airline offices along the landside of the terminal, turned a few corners and a picture wall narrating the highlights from the life of Oliver Tambo, the South African revolutionary and anti-apartheid politician.
“Jet fuel flows through my veins.”
Achma Asokan Foster, CEO, AirlinePros International
In front of us loomed a large window that opened to the apron – airport life passengers are usually not privy to. It was one of the two viewing decks at the airport, and we stood there watching aircrafts being loaded and unloaded, refuelled, taxiing, some with minor maintenance work going on and crisscrossing rampers. Achma began taking photographs on her mobile camera of the beautiful machines parked on the tarmac, sunlight bouncing off the gleaming riveted surfaces, different liveries emblazoned on the tails stark against a blue sky and of little human figures buzzing around like Lilliputians around parked aircrafts like recumbent Gulliver.
“Each day is different from the other – bringing with it the possibility to interact with people of different cultures around the world.”
Altamiro Medici, Regional Managing Partner, Americas and the Caribbean
Over the course of my own travels, I have been to many viewing galleries but this was one of the better ones for a bigger view and probably for the sheer variety of airplanes parked there – many of them were our clients which made it even more exciting to photograph. Like most of my colleagues at AirlinePros, I too love aviation, a love that goes way back: my first outing in art as a five-year-old was drawing a helicopter hovering above coconut trees which won me my first ever prize. One of my oldest tattoos is that of an aircraft with contrail. On my first ever trip on a Dreamliner for a fam trip many years ago, I even broke down overwhelmed by the cavernous interiors. But why was Achma, who had been in aviation for over four decades and helming the leading GSA in the world, still taking photographs of aircrafts?
“I am not aware of any other industry that can get into people’s heart the way aviation does.”
Corina Enciu, Global Head, Customer Experience
All of us have been on flights, but the magic of it never ceases to amaze without necessarily having to break it down to science and aerodynamics. Some take the fascination further – to the whole experience, inflight, check-in, ground crew, the clockwork precision that times the landing and take-off of aircrafts, customs, immigration, baggage belts, the works. But working in aviation, I have realized that this is an industry where passion takes the lead. Our deputy CEO Shreyas Nanavati can identify an aircraft from a mile! Aviation is an obsession, he says, but it was also destiny. “Recently my mother showed me drawings she saved I did when I was three – pages filled with rudimentary but clear sketches of commercial airplanes.”
“As a kid I remember being excited seeing flying machines in the sky, growing up it turned out to be a passion. A career in commercial aviation has only fueled my never-ending love for flying.”
Vinu Baby, CEO, AirlinePros International Shared Services
In an industry that never sleeps, with an alphabet of its own, which brings together people from varied ethnicities and backgrounds and time zones to work together, it is nearly impossible not to be even a passive lover. I used to live in Delhi near the airport and each time passing by I would marvel at little groups of people standing outside the perimeter wall exclaiming and clapping with excitement watching monster machines coming to land. Once I befriended a few and contrary to what I expected, many of them had been on an airplane before. Some found watching take-off and landings nothing short of therapeutic, some just loved the vertiginous sight. Most somehow knew there was serendipity in the air.
“The sky belongs to all of us and connects us all in many ways. It is the perfect setting to make our dreams come true.”
Judith Kolakowski, Chief Commercial Officer, North America
After taking photographs from the viewing gallery, Achma turned to me and reminisced about her growing up days in Zambia where her father was with the Royal Air Force. “At the end of every day I would eagerly wait for my dad to come home and tell us stories from work.” This fondness has continued to this day where she is all ears to those with stories to share about aviation.
“Airlines and flying encompasses several unique segments harmoniously – it is a channel where the traveling public fulfils their dreams, personal adventures, helps business achieve important objectives, and allows cultures to cross paths. Nothing like the aviation industry which has become part of my DNA.”
Karl Muller, Regional Managing Partner, Canada
It doesn’t take long before it dawns on you what it is all about – the unceasing, unrelenting love. It was about appreciating – and never stopping taking photographs – of the fuselage lines, the curve of the tail or the winglet, the nacelle gobbling up land, or the glinting pylons. It was about sitting by the window seat and getting lost in the scenery that kept changing every minute – what if it was just the clouds in different shapes!
“For us in aviation, the sky is not the limit but home.”
Marilyn Nel, Global Finance Controller, AirlinePros International