It takes 700-800 ground crew of Jardine Air Terminal Services (JATS) working around the clock to ensure that aircraft of their 50-plus passenger and cargo airline clients can turn around in one hour - or an hour and a half at most - at the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap kok.
Rain or shine, they perform their duties in the "basement" and on the "ramp", after the aircraft have come in. They unload baggage, mail and cargo, and then hoist up an entirely new load depending on the plane's destination. They also ensure there is transportation for all baggage and cargo to and from the ramp, and make sure that luggage gets onto the carousel in the shortest possible time.
And, to ensure that everything moves like clockwork, there is always a ramp duty manager on shift for the 24-hour service.
The ramp duty manager has a wide range of responsibilities and needs both management skills and technical knowledge to oversee operations and safety.
For those interested in the world of airport ground handling, JATS offers a one-year trainee programme as a direct route to the position of ramp duty manager.
"The position of ramp duty manager trainee can open doors to other management positions with the company," says Sharon Chung, learning and development manager. "The company offers job-rotations to managers, providing them the opportunity to broaden their horizons, which can help them advance within the company."
Jeff Tsui, currently an assistant manager of quality assurance and service improvement, started out as a ramp duty manager trainee after the one-year programme that covers classroom and on-the-job training.
"Apart from learning ramp operations, I was attached to our sister company, Jardine Air Terminal Services' passenger and cargo services," he says.
Classroom training covers technical knowledge related to loading and unloading, aircraft weight and balance, dangerous goods regulations, leadership, presentation and communication skills, and time management.
"When I attended the presentation skills training, we learned about style, body language and other ingredients of good presentation," he says.
One of the most difficult tasks is to ensure that operations run smoothly during flight disruptions, Tsui says.
"[JATS] has given me the chance to have an understanding of the whole company," he adds. "We can participate in various training. For instance, I participated in the `Finance for non-finance managers' training course."