“I’m from Albania. From there I first moved to Belgium in 1997 and then to Finland in 2005. Initially I worked in apprenticeship training with heavy vehicles until I set up my own repair shop in Tampere.
After settling in Finland, I also discovered Lapland and started going on skiing trips to Levi every Easter. I grew really fond of Lapland and began to consider working and living there. When I heard that Kittilä Airport was looking for seasonal maintenance workers, I sent in my application and was selected for the winter season of 2018–19. After that, I moved from Tampere to a camper van next to the airport where I’ll be staying until the spring.
My usual working day is really varied. My duties include different types of maintenance work, such as cleaning the apron of snow to ensure safe landings. There’s a hefty amount of snow falling all the time, which is a bit of a challenge. I’ve also taken part in rescue training and am now part of the airport’s rescue service team.
Working in airport maintenance is physically demanding. A good general condition and a flexible attitude are needed as you need to be up for all kinds of tasks. If, for instance, the snow plow driver is sick one day, you have to be ready to jump in and do the job. Also, a tolerance for cold weather, snow and darkness is necessary and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Above all, you also need to enjoy work in general as there’s lots of it!
My diverse background helps me in my duties. Back in Albania I worked for many years in the military, where I learned to drive and maneuver heavy vehicles. My language skills have also come in handy. When I was living in Belgium, I learned to master French, which is sometimes needed at the airport.
My spare time is limited during the busy winter months, but when I do have a break, I head straight to the slopes in Levi. Although there is some snow in Albania, I didn’t know how to downhill ski until I visited Lapland for the first time. In the beginning I fell down a lot, but I always got back up.
My contract at the airport lasts until April and then I’ll go back to Tampere to run my repair shop. Next winter? I hope to return to Kittilä.”