Atlas Around the World: Meet Regional Station Manager Kate Martinussen

Where is your station located and what is unique about it?

Regional Station Manager Kate Martinussen

Regional Station Manager Kate Martinussen

I am based in Sydney Airport, which is an international airport in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, just south of the center of the city in the suburb of Mascot. Our station is unique in that is required to manage the challenges that a city curfew brings. Sydney’s curfew begins at 2300 in the evening and is over at 0600 in the morning This can be very challenging as a lot of Polar flights are in and out very close to curfew.

What makes your most proud about your specific location?

Our “can do” attitude! No challenge is too big – we are committed to finding solutions. That is simply our mindset.

Tell us about the kind of cargo that comes into your station.

We have a wide range of cargo that comes in, which includes general cargo, such as aircraft engines, perishables such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and other cargo such as powdered milk and vitamins. We also take on many live animal charters to Asia and China.

Which local holidays affect business at your station?

The local holidays do not affect us that much because aviation never ever stops. We keep moving. In terms of planning, in the past Christmas period was a challenge as Australian industry traditionally closed a few days before Christmas until mid-January. I also need to be mindful of Australia Day and Anzac Day. Australia Day is the official national day of Australia and is celebrated every year on January 26

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance (typically in April) in both Australia and New Zealand that celebrates all Australians and New Zealanders who served in the military. Some of my team have also served so I strive to ensure they have these   days off so they can celebrate with their mates and participate in the parades.

What is the scope of operations at your station? (for example, how many of you are there – MX? Contractors? Ground?)

Most of the stations that fall into my region receive support from local vendor companies. The Honolulu and Sydney stations are the only ones staffed by full-time Atlas employees. In Honolulu, our station manager, Obichang Ongklungel, is supported by four full-time staff. Here in Sydney, in addition to myself, there are two MX managers, Matt Cassidy and Keith St Aubyn in Ground Operations as well as two full time staff, Yanic LeGrand and Austin Wallace. There are also contractors that are utilized.

Straps in Aircraft

102 straps were used to tie Ongard’s crate down to the aircraft.

How long has Atlas/Polar been operating in your location?

Polar started scheduled service into Australia in 1994. Atlas started regular service with the Qantas ACMI   agreement in August 2004.

What inspired you to get involved in aviation?

Most of my family are teachers and police officers – no one had worked in aviation, except me. But, when I was 11, my father took a job at Melbourne Airport as the airport chaplain. So, while he didn’t necessarily get me a job in aviation, I feel like this experience during my childhood pointed me in the direction of aviation. When I joined the industry at the age of 17, I initially thought I would do this, until I found something else. It’s now been 41 years and the job suits me perfectly. I like the logistics of this role and I especially enjoy the challenges that come with the job. Every day is different – tomorrow’s challenges will be different to today’s challenges.

Ongard the Elephant

Ongard hosed down at the Melbourne Zoo after a practice session of entering his travel crate.

What is your most memorable moment or favorite story during your time with AAWW?

We once moved an elephant named Ongard from the Melbourne Zoo (Australia) to Zoo

Miami (also known as The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens). The planning took well over 24 months and it was a Herculean effort for all who were involved. Another memorable moment was when we completed a park charter for a zoo that was closing in Cairns, Far North Queensland. Atlas was engaged to bring a variety of different animals – rhinos, hippos, monkeys, lions, tigers and bears – to a zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia. I love the animal charters because it gives me an opportunity to work to ensure they are all comfortable and prepared for a smooth trip.