Stephen Bisland, Emirates’ airport services manager at Glasgow airport, takes pride in the role he plays to support growth at the airline and is looking forward to new challenges with the company over the next five years.
What are your qualifications?
I left school with few formal qualifications. I worked my way up the career ladder to my current position as Emirates’ airport services manager at Glasgow. In my job you learn from experience, but Emirates employees are offered a range of internal and external courses at the airline’s training centre in Dubai. Courses on security, international regulations, and health and safety are compulsory for airport staff. I’ve also taken part in training courses on softer skills such as how to manage staff.
How did your career in the aviation industry begin?
With no prior experience in the aviation industry I landed a check-in agent job for Ogden Aviation at Glasgow airport in 1992, working with Air 2000. Later that year Ogden lost its Air 2000 contract to Servisair, which became my new employer.
There I worked closely with airlines in flight dispatch and was delighted when I secured a role with AirUK as a check-in agent – my most important career break. From there I moved up the ranks with a number of
airlines until I landed my first job with Emirates in 2004.
Tell us about your current role.
I’m responsible for overseeing every aspect of Emirates’ operations in Glasgow, where we have a team of 20 full-time staff servicing two daily flights to Dubai. As well as managing my own team, I work closely with Glasgow airport and Emirates’ service partners to ensure our passengers are safe, secure and comfortable. Importantly, I’m responsible for managing Emirates’ station budget and making sure we hit our cost and sales targets. Another big part of my role is emergency planning.
What is your typical day like?
My first tasks in the morning are to confirm the estimated arrival time of our first flight from Dubai – the EK27 – and to report into Emirates’ headquarters in Dubai. My day also involves meetings with my team and with airport partners. I also like to rotate operational inspections, from monitoring an aircraft turnaround to checking Emirates’ chauffeur service cars.
There are also some “glamorous” tasks. In May we hosted professional rugby players at the Emirates Lounge as part of our sponsorship of the Scottish Rugby 7s.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Scotland’s unpredictable weather, especially in winter, can make aircraft turnaround more challenging than in other parts of the world. I sometimes have to make difficult operational decisions quickly, but it does get easier with experience. It’s also important to keep my team calm and positive during busy periods such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I can only be grateful for having such a dedicated group of people working with me.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love the variety – no two days are ever the same. There are also some great personalities here at Glasgow airport, which has to be one of the friendliest airports in the world. I’ve worked here for 23 years so it feels like home. Emirates is one of the largest carriers here, so many people are involved in the turnaround of our aircraft.
People in Glasgow, both at the airport and in the city, are really interested in what we’re doing and I enjoy the part I play in that.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
2014 was Emirates’ busiest-ever year at Glasgow airport, with the increase in international visitors to the city and the launch of the Emirates Lounge. Because operations in Glasgow are so strong, there will be many new projects to get involved in. In five years’ time I hope to have helped Emirates achieve plenty more milestones in Glasgow.