An operations agent is involved in the operational management of an airport. This job includes a variety of tasks to keep an airport running smoothly and may require working at odd hours if a facility runs early in the morning or late at night. Airports usually look for people with at least three years of experience in aviation for such positions. It can help to have safety training qualifications, as safety is a significant concern for airports of all sizes.
When an operations agent arrives on shift, departing agents may provide a debriefing. They can discuss the flight schedule for the day and talk about any issues that have arisen. Operations agents must be able to respond to emergencies quickly while keeping the airport running smoothly. They work with airport staff on issues ranging from requests for emergency landings to airlines that need to adjust their schedules due to equipment problems.
Agents typically have an office, but may spend much of the day roaming in the airport. They often check for safety violations, help staff solve problems, and meet with different personnel over the course of the day. In the event of a problem, an operations agent may need to address issues like coordinating an airport evacuation or working with staff to reroute in order to keep a runway clear. Communication skills are critical for this job, which can require interacting with a variety of people on a daily basis while multitasking, especially at a large international airport.
People typically develop the skills needed to become an operations agent on the job. They start in the operations department, providing administrative support, and gradually take on more responsibilities. As employees acquire experience and demonstrate skills, they can be promoted to more senior positions. Over time, this may lead to qualification as an operations agent, or could prepare an airport employee to apply for a job at another airport if promotions appear to be moving slowly.
Individual airlines may have their own operations agents who coordinate staff, wake up crew members, and file appropriate documentation with authorities. They work with the airport’s personnel to address safety issues and make sure standards set by the carrier and the airport are met. These include documentation requirements for flights, safety protocols, and staff training. Operations agents can remain in contact with agents at the gate, ground crews, and representatives in call centers to keep the airline on time.