1. Return to JFK:
Two decades after Austrian Airlines launched its original but failed transatlantic service to New York – a joint operation with Sabena Belgian World Airways inaugurated April 1, 1969 with a Boeing 707-320 registered OE-LBA making a stopover in Brussels, returned to the United States on March 26, 1989, this time with an Airbus A-310-300 sports registration OE-LAA. The occasion not only introduced intercontinental services to its route system, but a broadband aircraft with its first three-class configuration for its fleet. Unlike the previous trial, this success proved successful, but signaled the beginning of another two decades of resilience, paved with numerous aircraft types, aviation alliances and strategies, terminals, handling companies, and computer systems. This is its history.
2. JFK Station Evolution:
Basic training, held at Austrian Airlines & # 39; North American Headquarters in Whitestone, New York, and taught by Peter "Luigi" Huebner, began on February 6, 1989, or six weeks before the opening flight, and its curriculum included "Passenger Action I" and "Adios Check-In" courses.
Austrian Airlines & # 39; first JFK location, the East Wing for the no longer existing International Arrivals Building, was a shared facility with Icelandair and included five Austrian-specific check-in counters equipped with computers, automated boarding pass printers and laser-scalable luggage markers and the common used upper level, Icelandair Saga Lounge.
Fully employed and trained by Austrian and equipped in his uniform, his staff performed all field operations: passenger service, ticket sales reservations, lost and found, cargo control, administration, supervision and management, while Icelandair personnel served on the ramp, monitoring aircraft service and baggage , cargo and mail loading.
However, the success of the operation depended on the equipment that serviced it, and it was only Airbus Industry's decision to offer a shorter-body version, lower capacity of its signature A-300, that allowed transatlantic operation to be restored with A-310.
This long-range, twin-engine, widebody design of contemporary technology offers the same range and dual-speed comfort as the comparable corporate engine 747 or tri-motor DC-10 and L-1011, while at the same time offering reduced capacity to facilitate year-round profitability. Because of the Austrian market size, the larger 747, DC-10 or L-1011 would otherwise have worked with a loss out of high season. Any of the other then long-haul aircraft, including the Boeing 707 and McDonnell-Douglas DC-8, contained older generation, fuel-most, four-phase Phase 1 technology in the early 1960s and would have been banned from US service , unless they had been killed or completely retrofitted. The very A-310 made Austrian Airlines' long, thin route sector Vienna-New York possible.
The original schedule in 1989 offered six weekly frequencies during the summer and five in the winter, with two A-310-300s serving New York and Tokyo, the latter with a stopover in Moscow. Alternatively, they also extended the longer-range routes, e.g. To Tel Aviv, Istanbul and Tehran.
In the first six months of JFK operations, an aircraft has never experienced an excessive delay due to scheduling, resulting in exemplary performance on time.
In-flight service, of course, represented a large portion of an airline's expenses. As a result, many carriers began to reduce this to reduce costs. Austrian Airlines, however, remained unique in a world characterized by snacks and paper cups by offering printed menus, recreation kits, porcelain service, free alcoholic beverages and earphones in the bus shuttles for its transatlantic flights to and from Vienna.
However, due to the A-310's short flight hooks, the lower deck luggage compartment was limited, with the front team usually containing luggage unit loaders (ULD's) and the rear of the cargo, which was often limited to two pallets and a single AKE unit.
Although the load factors in the New York-Vienna sector were initially low, they rose steadily until most flights were full. Large tour groups formed an increasing part of the passenger mix along with the expected connecting passengers who were able to take advantage of the expanding Vienna hub. It was the ultimate testimony of an airline when a passenger chose to fly with it and connect at its domestic airport as opposed to traveling directly with a national carrier.
As a "second attempt" over the Atlantic, the Austrian airline's intercontinental A-310 service to New York was ultimately successful.
With the acquisition of its third A-310-300, OE-LAC registered, Austrian Airlines considered service to another US gateway in the spring of 1991, such as to Los Angeles, but the A-310-300 & # 39; s 11-hour flight time excluded this reality. Even if Chicago were considered alternatively, America's own direct Boeing 767-200ER service to Vienna would have led to insurmountable competition as O & # 39; Hare was its second-largest hub, leaving Washington-Dulles as the only viable alternative.
For the European Continental Network, a higher gross weight McDonnell-Douglas MD-83 was ordered for delivery in 1991 and several existing MD-81 & # 39; s were converted to this standard, increasing their reach and payload. Two additional Fokker F.50 & # 39; s were also booked for domestic and long, thin international routes.
During the five-year period from 1989 to 1994, Austrian Airlines operated independently of JFK and offered as few as four weekly departures in the winter and as many as seven in the summer.
3. Delta Air Lines Code Share:
Changed market conditions requested a changed strategy at JFK for Austrian. For example, to try and adapt to a US domestic company to get feed for its transatlantic flights, it entered into a marketing agreement with Delta Air Lines, where it placed its two-letter "OS" code on Delta-operated flights, while Delta itself placed its own "DL" designation mutually on Austrian services. Two Delta flight attendants, wearing their company's uniforms, initially also served in the cabins of the A-310 & # 39; s to and from Vienna.
Although the economic benefit of the concept was slow to realize, the aircraft eventually achieved high load factors, carrying both Austrian and Delta passengers from about two dozen US cities through New York to Vienna, often with no travel.
To reduce ground handling costs and achieve synergistic benefits between carriers, Austrian Airlines moved its operations to Delta Terminal 1A (later redesigned terminal 2) on July 1, 1994, retaining only nine of its original 21 employees. Delta Air Lines, the newly appointed ground handling company, assumed arrivals, lost and found, passenger check-in, departure port, ramp and trunk, while Austrian itself continued to carry out its own ticket, cargo control, administration, oversight and management functions.
1994 also marked the acquisition of two long-range four-engine A-340-200s configured for 36 business and 227 economy class passengers and registered OE-LAG and OE-LAH. They periodically served New York for the next decade.
Another change occurred three years later, between February 1997 and 1998, when it moved its check-in counters and operational office to Delta Terminal 3, but otherwise remained the same marketing alliance.
The year also marked the first time that the transatlantic route to New York had matured sufficiently to support a second departure on selected days of the summer schedule, with this additional flight arriving in 2045 and diverting to 2205. Usually operated by aircraft OE-LAC, an A -310 with a reduced business section, but economy with greater capacity, facilitates connections with the departure from Vienna for dinner.
4. Atlantic Excellence:
Once again, following a deregulation requiring airline restructuring and attempts to achieve further cost-reducing synergies, Austrian Airlines integrated its JFK operations with Sabena Belgian World Airways and Swissair on March 1, 1998, forming tri-carrier Atlantic Excellence Alliance. Although the employees of all three carriers continued to wear their respective uniforms, they operated from a single passenger service and cargo control offices using a joint Austrian, Sabena and Swissair check-in facility and handled each other's flights.
During the high season, seven daily flights operated by four airlines were offered, including two to Vienna with Austrian Airlines, two to Brussels with Delta and Sabena, one to Geneva with Swissair and two to Zurich, also with Swissair.
Eight functions were performed at the Atlantic Excellence station, including checks, arrivals, departures, VIP / special services, ticket sales reservations, load checks, ramp inspection and troubleshooting. When Swissair was contracted to prepare cargo sheets for Malev-Hungarian Airlines & # 39; flights to Budapest, the actual Load Control function involved handling of six aircraft types-747-300s, A-340-200 / -300s, MD-11s, A -330- 200-, 767-200ER- and A-310-300s-often require training courses between carriers.
As was the case with Austrian Airlines, Delta also entered into mutual two-letter code-share agreements with Sabena and Swissair, but now took the previous marketing arrangement to full alliance status on Delta's markedly mature JFK aircraft hub. Delta nevertheless continued to provide ramp and baggage room features to all three Atlantic Excellence airlines.
In August of that year, Austrian Airlines took delivery of the first of four longer series, high-capacity A-330-200, registered OE-LAM and configured for 30 business and 235 economy class passengers, and eventually replaced the A -310-300 as its intercontinental workhorse. The four aircraft, which later operated a reduced 24-seat business cabin when the Grand Class concept was introduced, sported registrations OE-LAM, OE-LAN, OE-LAO and OE-LAP.
During the 1998 summer schedule, Austrian fielded its first double-flight operation from JFK, with the first departure normally operated by the A-330 and the second by the A-310.
5. Star Alliance:
Although an ultimate "Swissport Solution" was considered, under which all Atlantic Excellence field operations staff would have been transferred to the service provider, this never occurred.
Rumors that rumbled through the station as the gentle warnings of an imminent storm spread the atmosphere in mid-1999. A new strategy seemed to be looming on the horizon, and its seeds, planted long before it bloomed, were multifaceted and all-encompassing.
By June 1999, Delta Air Lines and Air France had formed the basis of a new global alliance, later named SkyTeam, thus dissolving the 25-month Austrian / Delta / Sabena / Swissair Atlantic Excellence Alliance, whose agreement without renegotiation would expire in August 2000.
Nevertheless, despite a ten percent cut in investment, Swissair had sought to buy additional Austrian Airlines shares, which precluded Austrian & # 39; s goal of preserving its own identity and independence and forcing it to withdraw from it. Swissair-led Qualiflyer Alliance of European carriers.
Swissair and Sabena formed a combined commercial management structure, which in turn proved to contradict Austrian Airlines & # 39; independent direction.
Finally, in early 2000, both Sabena and Swissair entered into code sharing agreements with American Airlines, a US flight composition that contradicted Austrian Airlines & # 39; s US feed strategy.
Nevertheless, as a small but profitable international airline of significant quality, Austrian Airlines needed the reach of a global alliance to remain profitable and thus entered into a membership agreement with the Lufthansa and United-led Star Alliance that entered into force on March 26, 2000.
The largest and longest-lasting alliance then consisted of Air Canada, Air New Zealand, All Nippon, Ansett Australia, Austrian Airlines, British Midland, Lauda Air, Lufthansa, Mexicana, SAS, Thai Airways International, Tyrolean, United and Varig and together 23 percent of world passenger traffic. But more importantly, the decision facilitated continued independent identity and operation, yet had the potential for expansion. Expressed as a sentiment, the decision was stated as, "Here we grow again!"
The transition from Atlantic Excellence to Star Alliance, which started as early as January 2000, led to four integrated changes.
1). A brand new IT (information technology) system and frequent flight program.
2). The operational relocation to a new terminal, passenger service office, passenger check-in counter, cargo control aircraft dispatch center and port at JFK.
3) New alliance airlines code distribution flights and traffic feeds resulted in the closure of the Atlanta station and the subsequent opening of the Chicago ones and the reopening of the Washington one in the United States.
4). The company-run migration training in Oberlaa, Austria, location of Austrian Airlines headquarters.
Star Alliance membership, which in turn involved a move to Terminal One at JFK, requested another handling change, this time from Delta to Lufthansa, which now performed Luggage Services and Passenger Check-In functions, while Austrian himself continued to act as capacity of arrivals, ticketing, load control, ramp inspection and management. Under a mutual agreement, it also provided these passenger services to Lufthansa for its own Frankfurt departures during non-operational hours. Initial loading and luggage operations were initially performed by Hudson General, which was later renamed GlobeGround North America.
In a further cost reduction strategy, Austrian Airlines moved to a smaller, lower-cost Passenger Service office on Terminal One in September 2002, at which time the Load Control / Ramp Supervision function was assigned to Lufthansa. After no longer operating Lufthansa flights, Austrian staff declined further, now to six full-time and two part-time positions, and daily change time dropped from nine to eight.
Austrian aircraft with the largest capacity, the A-340-300 – which accommodated 30 business and 261 economy class passengers – also periodically provided service to JFK, especially in the schedule for the summer of 2002, where an evening was planned on Saturday. Two such aircraft, registered OE-LAK and OE-LAL, now form part of the fleet.
6. Swissport USA:
The constant need to reduce costs resulted in yet another change at JFK's handling company on January 1, 2003, when most of the land was transferred from Lufthansa to Swissport USA.
In preparation for the change, Swissport Passenger Service staff participated in the Guide Check-In course in Vienna the previous month, while a Swissport agent, who structured the baggage services department, attended the World Tracer Basic course later this year, in October.
Equipped in Austrian Airlines uniforms, Swissport employees performed arriving, losing and being found, passenger check-in, departure port, load control and ramp inspection functions, while Austrian himself continued to assume responsibility for ticket sales, administration, surveillance and management.
Load control, initially performed in Terminal 4 using the Swissair DCS system, was eventually transferred to Terminal One and the Lufthansa-WAB system after Swissport operations staff completed a computer-controlled cargo control course in Vienna that same March.
7. North American Station Training Program:
Because most of the Swissport agents had little prior aviation experience and were therefore unfamiliar with Austrian Airlines & # 39; products and procedures, the author created a local training program by compiling course descriptions, writing textbooks, devising quizzes and exams, teaching the courses themselves and subsequently. issue education certificates to prepare them more to do their jobs.
The program, which tracks its routes to the Austrian Airlines Passenger Handling Course established in 1989 and the initial Load Control training material written in 1998, evolved into the full North American Station Training Program, the content of which is updated according to aircraft, system , procedure and alliance change included the four integrated curricula for "Initial Passenger Service", "Ramp Supervision Certification", "Load Control Licensing" and "Airline Management."
Ultimately, including 27 passenger services, ramp inspection, load control, air cargo and procedures and flight station management training manuals, two station histories and 28 curricula, resulted in 63 courses being taught by Austrian Airlines and Austrian Airlines-handling airlines Delta, Lufthansa, Passenger Handling Services / Maca, SAS, Servair and Swissport at the eight North American stations in Atlanta, Cancun, Chicago, Montreal, New York, Punta Cana, Toronto and Washington.
The program, which quickly evolved into the equivalent of an "airline university" and was often cited as the reason why Swissport employees were eager to transfer to the Austrian Airlines account, proved to be instrumental in their career paths and facilitate their promotions or acceptance by other airlines. .
8. Boeing and Lauda Air to JFK:
JFK, previously operated exclusively by Austrian Airlines and its fleet of A-310, A-330 and A-340 Airbus widebody aircraft, received its first regularly scheduled Lauda Air 767 operation during the summer of 2004, an airline founded by Formula I -race car driver Niki Lauda and considered Austrian Airlines & # 39; competitor in the early part of its history. But in the following year, its frequency quadrupled, and during 2007 it completely replaced the 17-year-old Airbus service.
The Lauda 767 flight in the summer of 2004, which served as a supplement to the daily Austrian frequency during the 11-week period from June 26 to September 5, was scheduled to arrive by 2055 on Saturday evenings and departed approximately. 25 hours later at. 2200 Sunday.
To prepare the station for the additional service, local Boeing 767 Passenger Service and Boeing 767 Load Control courses were created and taught for Swissport employees.
As Lufthansa's technical staff did not have 767 licenses, its maintenance was contracted with Delta Air Lines, which operated all three-series 7600 series -200, -300 and -400, and a comprehensive night-stop and safety procedure was performed prior to the aircraft's pushing. back to Terminal One hardstand, at which time security sealing was applied to all access doors. Unloaded galley equipment was washed and prepared for the following evening.
Due to the aircraft's then 36-passenger Amadeus Class capacity, the late departure was difficult to sell in the business cabin without significant marketing promotion and fare reduction, while cargo pallet loading was dimensionally limited to four positions in the front room. The aircraft itself operated in a combination of supplies from Lauda Air and Star Alliance.
During the summer 2005 schedule, from June 14 to September 2, 767-300 delivered up to four additional weekly frequencies, resulting in a total of 11, with the A-330 normally running the early departure and 767-300 the late.
In 2007, the type completely replaced the A-330 and A-340 fleets, but appeared with several configurations. For example, OE-LAE, -LAY and -LAZ aircraft had room for 36 in business and 189 in economy, while registering OE-LAX and -LAW respectively contained 30 and 200 seats. Aircraft OE-LAT, which offered the highest capacity of the six, included ten more seats than these two latter for a complement of 240 passengers.
9. Centralized load control:
In late 2006, a concept called "Centralized Load Control" (CLC) system was introduced at JFK, and the station, like the nucleus of an atom, became the nucleus of the whole.
The granddaughter of Michael Steinbuegl, then-JFK Station Manager, the procedure following trends set by Swiss International in New York, Lufthansa in Cape Town, and SAS in Bangkok, originated in a previous research project where he explored cost reductions using a large, single centralized load control department in Vienna or several regional. However, the latter led to language and time zone barriers.
After accumulating considerable experience in creating operational procedures and methods as a former flight handling manager, he was well versed with weight and balance issues.
He tried to apply this knowledge and while trying to correct the system's incompatibility and communication difficulties with the SAS-Bangkok event in Washington, he first tackled this station, which, like JFK, already used the Lufthansa-WAB system. In the process, he set the course for the many transitions that would come by making multiple guard journeys to establish local station-compliant procedures and then prepare a detailed pamphlet about them. The first centralized load sheet for the Washington flight, OS 094, was generated on November 1, 2006.
Charlie Schreiner, then head of Austrian Airlines Load Control, then flagged the event by sending the following telex.
"With Austrian Airlines Flight OS 094 on November 1," he wrote, "our first line station had been linked to a regular centralized load checking process with ULD aircraft. All operations on operational flight preparation, load scheduling, ULD coordination and WAB System documentation, including that cargo sheets sent to the cockpit via ACARs had been successfully checked by our JFK station yesterday. "
However, the rest of the CLC program involved phase implementation. In May of the following year, service from Chicago was reintroduced. Because this could now be considered a "new" station, it followed logically that its load sheets would be integrated into the CLC system from the start and, despite computer system differences, successfully adapted with the first flight on May 29 after procedural changes.
When these cities were managed by JFK, it was decided to integrate the last North American station, Toronto, whose first centralized cargo sheet was issued July 1.
Three Austrian Airlines dedicated load controllers from Swissport, two of whom worked on any given day during peak season, formed the centralized load control team.
Since the fourth station was integrated, JFK produced about 120 load sheets a month, and the highly successful system provided several benefits.
First of all, it provided significant savings. All aircraft departed on time relative to their load plan and load sheet preparation, and all four North American aircraft were operationally handled by only one more daily load controller than JFK had employed for a single departure. All load instruction reports and load sheets were further generated by the Lufthansa-WAB system, giving Vienna instant access to all load control related data and documentation.
10. Boeing 777:
When Austrian Airlines reversed its winter plan for the 2008-2009 winter of March 29, JFK fielded its first Boeing 777-200ER operation, the airline's largest capacity aircraft and the fifth base type to have served New York after A-310, A-330 , A-340 and 767.
The aircraft, originally acquired by Lauda Air, was configured for 49 business class and 258 bus passengers, although two later examples, which included higher gross weight and changed passenger arrangement, accommodated 260 economy class passengers in ten-by-three, three-four – three, configurations.
In the six-month period between April and September 2009, each flight carried 34 percent more arriving and departing passengers, along with substantially increased complement of goods and mail than the comparable year earlier period when 767 was used. The four 777 in the fleet were registered OE-LPA, OE-LPB, OE-LPC and OE-LPD.
11. Lufthansa acquisition:
2009 was a key year for Austrian Airlines, both locally and systematically. Due to the global economic downturn, escalating fuel prices, eroding yields and strong Western European competition from low-cost carriers, its economic viability and continued existence as a company was threatened despite previous strategies that included the sale of the A-330 and A-340 fleet. that reduces its long-haul route system and implements several restructuring plans. Its savior in the form of an agreement with Lufthansa-German Airlines enabled it to continue its operations as it took over its debt and acquired most of its shares.
On August 28, the European Commission officially approved Lufthansa-German Airlines acquisition of Austrian Airlines Group. The strategy consisted of € 500 million from the specified holding company needed for restructuring and the merger between the two carriers, paving the way for Austria's integration into the Lufthansa fold in September. However, in order to obtain the required antitrust immunity, Lufthansa itself had to agree to abandon key flight tracks and reduce the number of services between Vienna and Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart.
For Austrian Airlines, which would become one of Lufthansa's several independent European hub carriers, it signaled economic survival, an improved financial foundation, cost synergies such as the purchase of shared fuel and aircraft, and access to Lufthansa's extensive international sales and route networks. . The establishment of Vienna as a high-performance hub for traffic feeds for the new owner's dense central and eastern European route system was considered Austrian strength within the system.
As a result of this ownership, numerous basic North American changes also occurred.
In Toronto and Washington, for example, Lufthansa assumed all ground handling aspects.
In New York, more than half of the staff employed at its North American headquarters in Whitestone was laid off, while its facility, located on the fifth floor of Octagon Plaza and considered its "fortress" for nearly a quarter of a century, was closed, with the remaining staff moving to Lufthansa's East Meadow, Long Island, office.
At JFK itself, Austrian Airlines Cargo just moved to the Lufthansa plant on November 1, and 16 days later Swissport sent the ground handling flashlight to Lufthansa-German Airlines.
Michael Steinbuegl, manager of this station for four years, was promoted to Key Account Manager, North America, but four ticket sales booking positions became redundant when Lufthansa took over these functions, reducing Austrian Airlines & # 39; s staff to just two members, (author included), who received limited six-month contracts expiring May 15, 2010. Intermittently integrated into the Lufthansa operation and plan, they handled their flights while becoming familiar with Lufthansa employees with their own procedures, but after this transitional period. was also released from employment.
The last Austrian Airlines & # 39; red uniform presence & # 39; whether represented by purely Austrian Airlines or Swissport staff took place on November 15, and the office on the first floor of Terminal One, so far "home" for the carrier's management, passenger service, centralized load Control, ticket sales reservations and luggage services / lost and found wards were delivered to three desks in the Lufthansa facility, two of which were Duty Manager stations located at the main level and one of which was reserved for the Key Account Manager position at the lower level of the Station Operations office.
All things seem to come completely in cycle. The event, effectively ending 21 years of autonomous Austrian Airlines presence, marked the return of the carrier to its 1938 integration with Lufthansa and its 2000 handling event at JFK.
12. JFK Station Forces:
In 2009, Austrian Airlines served 666 arrival and departure flights at JFK and carried 158,267 inbound and outbound passengers, up 18.42 percent over the previous year, while carrying 5,005 arrival and departure flights and carrying 1,074,642 passengers during the of the seven years between 2003 and 2009 that Swissport USA took over its land management there.
JFK, after weathering several airlines, terminal rooms, computer systems, handling companies, aircraft types and a steadily declining number of Austrian Airlines employees during its 21-year presence, effectively closed its doors, the last of its North American stations to have made that.
Through its more than two decades of presence, it had handled five aircraft types – Airbus A-310, Airbus A-330, Airbus A-340, Boeing 767 and Boeing 777; had adopted four strategies – its first, independent operation; Delta Air Lines Code Agreement; tri-carrier Atlantic Excellence station; and Star Alliance integration; had served from four JFK terminals – terminal one, terminal two, terminal three and the international arrival building; had been handled by three companies – Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa-German Airlines and Swissport USA; and had used two computer systems.
Fordi talenter og evner hos mange af dens medarbejdere blev kanaliseret til at producere kreative og innovative resultater i det sidste kapitel af dets eksistens, havde JFK noteret flere resultater, hvoraf nogle gjorde det muligt for den at spille en stadig mere nukleisk rolle i Nordamerika. De kan opdeles som følger.
Det nordamerikanske stationsuddannelsesprogram, der bestod af passagertjeneste, rampetilsynscertificering, belastningskontrollicenser og ledelsesdiscipliner, var medvirkende til uddannelsesforberedelsen af alle medarbejdere på entry-level, hvilket gjorde det muligt for dem at udføre deres udpegede funktioner med tilstrækkelig procedureviden eller climb the ladder all the way to management, if so needed. The textbooks and courses were subsequently used to duplicate this success at Austrian Airlines' other North American stations.
The Centralized Load Control (CLC) Department, entailing the preparation of loading instruction/reports and load sheets for the four North American stations of Chicago, New York, Toronto, and Washington, was highly successful and once involved four aircraft types: the Boeing 767, the Airbus A-330, the Airbus A-340, and the Boeing 777.
The Baggage Services/Lost and Found Department, under the direction of Omar Alli, served as a model for other stations and earned a lost baggage rating that became the envy of them. Omar himself often traveled to other stations in order to provide restructuring guidance for their own Baggage Services Departments.
The Ticket Sales-Reservations counter, under the direction of Sidonie Shields, consistently collected significant amounts of annual revenue in ticket sales, excess baggage, and other fees.
The visible presence of Austrian Airlines, in red uniforms, to the passenger, whether worn by Austrian Airlines or Swissport staff, cemented its identity.
The several annual special flights, which sometimes posed significant challenges, but were always successfully executed, included those carrying the Rabbi Twersky group, the American Music Abroad group, the IMTX group, the Vienna Boys' Choir, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and Life Ball, the latter with its high-profile celebrities, colorful characters, and pre-departure parties.
The special events, often fostering a "family" atmosphere among its own and Swissport staff, included the annual "Year in Review" series, the Pocono Mountain ski trips, the summer pool parties, the birthdays, the Thanksgiving dinners, and the Secret Santas at Christmas.
And, finally, the daily briefings, jokes, laughs, raps, camaraderie, friendships, and human connections continually emphasized and acknowledged the true souls behind everyone as they cohesively worked toward the airline's and the station's common goals.
Michael Steinbuegl, who assumed command as JFK Station Manager in September of 2005, had cultivated the environment and orchestrated the steps that had allowed every one of these accomplishments to be made.
13. Two Decades of Elasticity:
Austrian Airlines, hitherto among the smallest European airlines, had to assume a considerable degree of necessary "elasticity" during its 21 years at JFK, ebbing and flowing with the ever-changing turbulence created by prevailing market conditions, seeking financial benefit, synergistic strength, market niche, alliance realignment, and ultimate change of ownership. Defying Darwinian philosophy, whose "survival of the fittest" prediction is often translated as "survival of the largest," Austrian Airlines had, despite numerous, necessary redirections, proven the contrary, perhaps prompting a rewording of the philosophy to read, "survival of the smallest," if four short words were added-namely, "as a global player."
Toward this end, the latest strategy enabled the carrier to survive. For station JFK and its staff, however, it did not.
Because I had been hired by Austrian Airlines two months before its inaugural transatlantic flight from JFK occurred on March 26, 1989 and subsequently held several positions there throughout its 21-year history, I felt singularly qualified, as a lifetime aviation researcher, historian, and writer, to preserve its story in words. It is, in essence, my story. It is what I lived. And what I leave…