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Humans of Helsinki Airport: window washer Jermu Hakala

Article published
25.1.2019 at 09:00
Jermu Hakala
The airport has sweeping glass walls, and it can be a challenge to keep them clean and shiny.

Jermu Hakala tells us what it's like to wash windows to the rhythm of outbound and incoming flights.

“I’ve been washing windows since I was 14. Originally it was just a summer job for our family business, but now, at 26 years old, I’ve been doing this for almost half of my life.

“We wash windows with a cleaning pole. We wipe them with a furry swob and dry them with a scraper. We also use a scissor lift to access high surfaces. Antd there are a lot of them in the airport! Work is always done in pairs.

“Our essentials are always the same: the main requirement is to get the windows clean and shiny. Working at the airport, of course, has its peculiarities and these are most often related to safety and security. We must, for instance, arrive at work through security check and steer clear of passengers while working.

Jermu Hakala

“At Helsinki Airport, windows are washed to the rhythm of outbound and incoming flights. If we are cleaning the passenger bridge windows as the plane arrives, we clear the area as quickly as possible. I play some Yatzy on my phone while waiting for the space to be empty again. Only then can we return to work.

“At the moment we are cleaning the windows of Helsinki Airport’s south pier. This spot is convenient, as most of the south pier’s flights are scheduled to arrive and depart in the afternoon. Morning hours here are rather quiet, which is great for working. In the afternoon the terminal is full of passengers, and we then have to move elsewhere.

“We also find ourselves working in other relatively unusual locations such as the Parliament House of Finland, which is even more challenging to clean than the airport. Aside from stringent security rules, the architecture of the old and tall strictly protected building poses some issues for us window washers.

“Airport passengers don’t come into contact with us that much. Of course, sometimes someone will look at us curiously and wonder what we’re up to.”

Read about how airplanes are cleaned.

Read about aircraft cleaner Pauliina Henriksson.

People & Aviation