In talking about her work responsibilities, Linda Zīverte laughs and compares herself to a one-man orchestra, owing to the multiple nature of duties that she has to fulfil on a daily basis. Having been with airBaltic for the past 15 years, Linda Zīverte admits that even when she is on vacation, she looks at the airport service in foreign destinations with the critical eyes of a professional. Energetic and feminine, she sees lots of opportunities for expanding her skills and knowledge in her line of work.

What does your job entail?
The department where I work is directly connected with the servicing of aircraft on the ground. As an area station manager, I am responsible for airBaltic’s cooperation with the German airports to which our airline flies. When, after careful consideration, airBaltic opens a new flight route, someone from my department is assigned to find trustworthy partners at the airport of our new destination. These partners are responsible for ground operations in accordance with airBaltic standards. That includes attending to the aircraft once it lands, unloading its cargo and loading it up again for the flight back, along with apron service. In other words, everything that has to do with serving the needs of the aircraft and its passengers while the plane is on the ground. This is all strictly regulated. Other departments of the airline are also involved, and together with them we organise training for the airport workers so that our flights are safe and depart on time, and so that our passengers arrive at their destination according to plan. I am like a boss to these airport employees as well as a source of support. I explain their tasks and address any problems that they might come across.

Does that involve frequent working visits to these cities?
I am responsible for the five German destinations that airBaltic services: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf. I have to meet with our partners at each of these airports at least once a year and conduct an inspection, so as to ensure that all of the ground operations are being conducted in accordance with our set procedures. For example, once an aircraft has landed, I have to see if it has been attended to in a timely manner, if the staff who attend to it are properly equipped and if they observe the required safety procedures. Then we discuss what went well and what could still be improved. We also hold quality meetings and discuss all outstanding issues or complaints, as aviation is a field where safety and precision are of paramount importance. It’s essential to meet with our partners face to face from time to time. That makes all discussions much more fruitful.

How has your career evolved at airBaltic?
I joined the airline in 1999 as a check-in agent, together with about 15 other people. Now, only two of us are left: me and airBaltic’s corporate sales manager Liene Kundecka. (Laughs.) After three years in my initial position, I was promoted to ticket sales, first in a junior and then a senior position. That was followed by a position as outstation ticket office service controlsupervisor and outstation ticket desk manager. Finally, last fall I was offered my current position. Thanks to my previous experience at the airline, I also oversee airBaltic’s ticket sales in Germany. As an added bonus, I look for baggage that has gone astray as the
“lost and found” contact for that country! (Laughs.) That’s why I compare my job with that of a one-man orchestra. airBaltic is an important part of my life, not only due to the number of years that I have worked here, but also because one of my colleagues has now become my husband and together we have established a new family.

I learned about the vacant check-in position at airBaltic through a friend of mine, and if my memory doesn’t fail me, then she also sent in my application! Of course, I went to the job interview myself. (Laughs.) I actually wanted to become a flight attendant, but there weren’t any free positions in that field, so I started working as a check-in agent and took on part-time studies at university, from which I later graduated.

It seems that your work days are far from routine.
While I do more or less the same things every day, each outstanding issue that arises is different from the previous one. And of course, everything that comes up has to be resolved quickly. There are times when an excess amount of cargo has been assigned to our aircraft, which is simply too small to accommodate it all. (Laughs.) On other occasions, a hockey team might be travelling and, as you know, hockey players’ bags take up a large amount of space! Things never become routine in my position.

What has kept you working at airBaltic for such a long time?
During my 15 years with the airline, the company has grown a great deal. There is no stagnation here and the staff is receptive to new changes. airBaltic has a lot of potential for further development and is an attractive place for young professionals. When I travelled on airBaltic flights in the early 2000s, I knew the name of practically every captain and flight attendant. Now the chances of meeting a colleague that I know are much smaller, but that’s a good thing
for it means that the airline is growing. When I worked at our ticket office in Old Riga, we had four staff members. Now we have 15 staff members per shift working at our call centre. When you work in a dynamic environment that is developing quickly, you have big goals, but these can also be more easily reached. We are really looking forward to the arrival of our new Bombardier aircraft fleet. That will also entail big changes at my department, as we will have to watch very closely how our partners service the new airplanes. The field of aviation is very international. In my department alone we also have staff members from Lithuania, Estonia and Russia. You get various cultures, mentalities and styles of work coming together in one workplace, but that’s quite interesting as we can all learn a great deal from each other.

What would you call a successful work day?
If all of the flights at the airports that I am responsible for have left safely and on time, then that is a successful work day. It’s also been a good day if I don’t find any shortcomings in our partners’ work during my inspection trips to Germany.

 

What assets or skills would you be looking for in a candidate for a vacancy in your department? How do men and women differ in this regard?
Men are usually quite adept at technical issues, and this job is quite technical. However, women are usually better at leading discussions or negotiations, because they can use their female charm and approach to things. Most of the partners whom I deal with are men. At a recent meeting in Berlin, two female representatives from Latvia (my colleague and I) were greeted by eight men and only one woman. Having an educational background in aviation would also
be a plus, although that is not the most important thing. Most of the knowledge that I have gained has been through direct experience on the job, and if you need to get some information about something, then it is usually easy to come by. The experience that I have gained in my previous positions now lets me solve problems very quickly on my own, without having to seek the assistance of others. If I need some extra help, then I can also ask for advice from my colleagues in the Technical Department, many of whom have also been with the airline for a long time, and who are always ready to assist me.

I assume that people who work in the field of aviation like to travel a lot. What type of traveller are you and what has been your most exciting travel destination?
Yes, I do enjoy travelling, but I think that most of my colleagues travel more than I do. One of my most memorable trips was to Thailand, but during my next vacation I plan to visit Croatia. A good thing about aviation is that one can be spontaneous. If I get the urge to spend the weekend in another city, then I can
easily do that, also together with my family. Even just a couple of days outside of my usual environment are enough to clear my head. Then I can return to work with renewed energy and look at outstanding work issues from a different perspective. I must admit that whenever I fly to a destination, regardless of whether or not it is under my responsibility, I look at things from a critical standpoint and size out the situation. It takes me a while to switch my mind to “rest” mode.

When you are not travelling abroad on vacation, what other pastimes do you have?
Sometimes I just like to relax and do nothing! (Laughs.) Since I have two children at home, my schedule outside of work is pretty tight as well. I’m happy if I get a spare moment to read a magazine out on the terrace. Sometimes, my fellow colleague, with whom I have been working together for the past 15 years,
suggests that we take some time off after work. She calls up my husband, tells him that I will be home later and takes me out to the movies. BO