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Humans of Helsinki Airport: Slot coordinator Tiina Nokkala

Article published
7.8.2018 at 09:00
Tiina Nokkala
Tiina Nokkala manages the pre-agreed departure and landing times for aircraft at Helsinki Airport. There aren’t many professionals in this highly specialised field: they all fit into one conference room. In the whole world.

"I never thought I'd become a slot coordinator when I was young. I mean, I didn’t even know the whole profession existed! I originally studied communication and after my studies I started working in aviation. I worked at Finnair’s traffic planning department for a good while.

“Previously, hubs did not have separate coordinators, as the airlines and airports agreed on departure and landing times bilaterally. The growth in air traffic created a need to organise the slots at European level in greater detail.

“Slot coordination began in the European Union at the start of the 2000s. Helsinki Airport also needed a dedicated slot coordinator, and I showed my interest in the work. I started in 2003. Initially, all the practices had to be created, because no tradition of coordinating 2003. Initially, all the practices had to be created, because no tradition of coordinating existed.

“As a slot coordinator, there really is no such thing as a typical working day. Everything really depends on the season. Designing the airport slots is done through a tightly scheduled international co-operation, and the slots are coordinated twice a year, during the summer and winter seasons.

“Part of the year is terribly busy, for example in the autumn, when planning is done for the summer season of the following year. Outside these whirlwind-like periods, however, it is more peaceful and daily coordination takes place almost automatically. On the other hand, in quieter seasons, one has to get acquainted with new regulations, so there’s plenty of work for the whole year.

“We coordinators hold a meeting twice a year with all the world’s airlines and airports involved. Before the assembly, the season has been planned so far that only problematic situations need to be dealt with. When we are present in the same place, it is easier to discuss changes face-to-face and to find a solution that’s suitable for all parties.

“That this line of work is unusual is a cliché that holds true. There are less than a hundred slot coordinators all over the world, and I know them all personally. Good contacts make the work much easier.

“When I travel, I observe the operation of various airports and pick up ideas. It's refreshing. It is also nice that when international colleagues visit Helsinki Airport, as they are often excited about solutions developed here that feel quite commonplace for me. For instance, I've heard many positive remarks about our Business Flight Centre and its services, which is of course very nice!"

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People & Aviation