Inside Iberia Iberia Plus

The fundamental keys to being punctual

This month, we talk with Almudena García Vega. She has been working as a coordinator at Madrid airport for 18 years, and is just as in love with her job as she was on her first day. “It’s a very nice – but at the same time very demanding – job that gets you hooked.”

Iberia was the world’s most punctual airline in 2016 and 2017, as verified by FlightGlobal. This is not mere coincidence, but rather the result of the efforts and continuous work of its employees.

What is a coordinator?

It’s like the conductor of an orchestra, who collects and organises the information of all the departments involved in an airplane’s departure – check-in and boarding, loading, crews, fuel, catering and cleaning – so that the airplane can depart on time. And we try to foresee any possible incidents that might happen, anticipate them, to solve them and avoid delays.

So, your goal is punctuality?

Punctuality and safety. Remove the chocks on time, but also scrupulously carry out the procedure. Everything has to be perfectly loaded and stowed, and all the services finished before closing the doors.

So, you always have an eye on the clock...

Yes. For short- and medium-haul flights, we get to the airplane 50 minutes before its departure time; with long-haul planes, we get 90 minutes. And from that moment, we don’t stop. We’re running against the clock. Although I have to admit that the last 10 minutes (T minus 10) are the most critical. That’s when we have to have the flight’s final data. And if there’s any incident, we have to resolve it immediately. For instance, if there’s a passenger missing from a connecting flight, we have to find their suitcase and get it off the plane, because luggage can’t fly without its owner. Those are some gruelling minutes.

Out of curiosity... how many kilometres do you walk every day to talk with everyone involved in the operation?

Well, we easily take more than 10,000 steps. And if it’s a day with a lot of problems, it could be as many as 12 or 13 kilometres. We don’t need to go to the gym (laughing)

You’ve just launched an app...

Cora. Now we have all the data on the assigned flight in the mobile. Boarding gate, number of passengers and if any have special needs, like wheelchairs, unaccompanied children or baby strollers. The fuel to be loaded, even the loading sheet. Thanks to Cora, we’re now far more autonomous and efficient. We save a lot of communications with the Console and also save on paper, so we’re more eco-friendly, too. It’s all good.