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Five questions to Roland Hunziker

Here we talk to a person who gets things moving at Zurich Airport. Today it's Roland Hunziker, IT & Coordination Development Manager at Slot Coordination Switzerland.

Who is Slot Coordination Switzerland?
We are a small non-profit organisation. Besides our managing director and his assistant, we have two coordinators here in Zurich. A colleague stationed at Geneva Airport handles slot coordination there. We are an independent enterprise with the legal form of an association. Our company was founded in 2004 in connection with the bilateral agreements with the EU, which state that airport coordination must be independent.

And what do you and your colleagues do exactly?
Our core business is allocating airport slots, take-off and landing times for all airlines. We plan all flight movements for the airlines in Zurich and Geneva. Take Swiss for example. Our home carrier notifies us that it wishes to offer an additional daily flight to/from Boston. If that flight fits into Zurich Airport’s capacity schedule, Swiss gets the desired airport slot, the right to use the infrastructure at Zurich Airport from landing through to take-off. We are currently coordinating the planning for the summer 2016 season. Zurich and Geneva Airports’ complex capacity schedules provide us with an empty window, which we fill with the airlines’ timetables. The aim is to give them the best possible slots, while making optimum use of the airport capacity available. Our work calls for close contact with all airlines. Twice a year, we also meet face-to-face at the IATA Slot Conference.

Is the Slot Conference a highlight of your work?
Yes, it certainly is. Although these three- to four-day meetings are incredibly intensive, with 20 to 30 meetings a day and nearly 1,000 participants, I consider the Slot Conference to be extremely important. In particular, the personal contact with colleagues from the airlines is essential and very valuable to us.

How long have you been working at Zurich Airport?
I’m a real airport child. In 1979, I did an air transport apprenticeship at Swissair, working almost everywhere at once, from check-in and lost & found through to freight. Later on, I served as a replacement at Swissair sites abroad, including in Kuwait, Lagos and Lisbon, before spending over two years as station and sales manager in Moscow. My aviation background and all my activities to date help me in my current role. I have developed an understanding of how airlines plan, have a good overall picture of the complex airport system and am familiar with the connections, dependencies and key players.

Where does your fascination with flying stem from?
Probably from the stars. I always wanted to be an astronaut and still remember how, as a child, I was glued to the screen of the rented television, following the moon landings with bated breath. Although I did not become an astronaut, my daily work entails similar challenges, all aviation-related.

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