On 15th November, we added a new customer to our portfolio, Etihad, the second national airline of the United Arab Emirates, based in Abu Dhabi, to which we will provide a full-handling service.
Etihad will initially operate four daily frequencies between Madrid – Abu Dhabi with a Boeing-789, with the likelihood of increasing to five from January.
Both the Commercial Department of Iberia Airport Services (IBAS), headed by Carmen Martinez as Handling Account Manager, and the Management of Madrid-Barajas Airport have been working for months to ensure that everything is ready and that the operation is a success.
The great novelty for the Barajas team will be to work with SABRE as DCS system in our HUB. Etihad personnel have been responsible for training a group of employees in the use of this system, teaching them the specific procedures and requirements necessary to comply with the established standard.
All those responsible for executing the “mechanism” that we set in motion with the training process and that culminates with the first day of operation, are specialists in coordinating this type of process, given that at Madrid Barajas we serve 38 client companies and all types of fleets,” says Rubén Menéndez, Companies Support Manager.
We show you below how this first operation went:
We opened check-in about 3 hours before the flight was scheduled to depart at 14:00. At the check-in counters in T4, our Passenger Service colleagues attended for the first time to passengers flying to Abu Dhabi with the SABRE system. Everything went smoothly, as María Gómez told us, “although with the nerves of using a new system, we worked smoothly with SABRE, and as with the rest of the companies, we pay special attention to ensure that all documentation is in order, despite the fact that these flights have a great diversity of nationalities and connections to other destinations”.
While at the docks
In the baggage hippodrome located in the North Satellite area of T4, the ramp team began to classify the bags according to their destinations and transits, segregating the baggage according to their connection times and assigning them in a pre-established order inside the AKES or baggage containers.
And on the tarmac we first welcomed the arrival of Etihad.
We witnessed the arrival of Etihad flight EY075 at its assigned parking position, where the ramp team had previously proceeded diligently to inspect the FOD (foreign object debris). Once the coordinator assigned to this flight, Elena Munteanu, confirmed that the engines were stopped and the beacon was turned off. This is when the ramp team began to deploy efficiently around the apron, in a rehearsed choreography, to carry out their tasks on a windy day in Madrid: placing chocks in front of and behind the wheels because no cones were placed due to the wind, GPU (Ground power unit) and opening the holds.
All this dance took place under the watchful eye of team supervisor Miguel Barba and coordinator Elena, who confessed that she was delighted to welcome a client like Etihad to Madrid.
Everything was ready to start boarding on time, but we had to delay it for a few hours due to a technical problem on the plane. In spite of the incident, we always had our employees at the disposal of the company’s needs and giving support to the passengers.
End of service to the aircraft.
After 19:00 hours, the pushback finally moved into position to “hug” the nose gear and start the pushback manoeuvre.
Witnessing and supporting the start of this operation were Carmen Martinez, IBAS commercial manager, Nieves Auñón, Etihad’s head of stopover and various managers from different areas of the Barajas team, such as Mirian Hidalgo, Passenger Customer Handling Manager and Miguel Saiz, Customer Handling Ramp Manager, among others.
Nieves Auñón, Etihad’s head of stopover, thanked us for the work carried out during the previous weeks: “I am convinced that this is the beginning of a professional relationship that will last for a long time. Thank you Iberia Airport Services for your dedication and professionalism, as I have been able to see in this first operation, putting to the test the great human and technical team at the disposal of our company”.
Seeing this first flight depart, everyone “relaxes”. It is the beginning of a new stage with a new client that we are delighted to serve, proud of the levels of quality and efficiency demonstrated, after a few hard weeks of preparation.