An Aircraft Factory Tour Helps a Dream Take Flight: An interview with Mai Sato

An interview with Mai Sato, Operations Agent at Narita International Airport (NRT) 

Atlas Air Employee

Mai Sato

Here at Atlas, our people are the source of our strength and what drives our business forward. Their collective skills and experiences contribute to our competitive advantage and are what enabled the safe operation of 61,000 flights, serving 265 destinations in 60 countries in 2022.

Today, we introduce you to a member of our world-class team, Mai Sato, Operations Agent at Narita International Airport (NRT). According to her manager, Shige Fukuda, Regional Manager of Asia, Ground Ops, Mai was the first to volunteer to be a Flying Loadmaster during the COVID pandemic. The assignment was very demanding, yet Mai persevered. This is just one example of how Mai impresses her team!

Mai, how did you find aviation and decide to pursue it as a career? 

Mai during her time as a passenger service representative at a prior job.

When I was a student studying abroad in the U.S., I went on a Boeing Factory Tour in Seattle. It was the first time I saw an aircraft up-close, and I found it to be impressive and spectacular. From that moment, it became my dream to work in the aviation industry.

My first job was as a Load Planner at Kansai International Airport (KIX). My days were busy and my job was very rewarding. After five years, I put my aviation career on hold to concentrate on raising my children, but I knew I would return to the aviation industry someday. When we moved to Narita Chiba for my husband’s job, I decided it was time to go back to aviation.

I found a job as a Load Planner Narita International Airport. I really enjoyed the role as well as my coworkers, but I was ready to take on more challenges and gain new experiences. I found that opportunity with Atlas and have now been with the Company for five years.

Describe your current role at Atlas. 

I coordinate ground operations at Narita International Airport. I oversee security on the ground and supervise ramp agents to ensure safety during cargo handling operations. I also produce load plans and aircraft weight and balance forms.

Last year, I transitioned from ground to air crew duties and served as a Flying Loadmaster, supporting flights to China. I was responsible for the safe conduct of the flight from takeoff to landing and accomplished it with the support of local agents. It was challenging work and provided me with a lot of experience.

While the coronavirus pandemic caused many challenges and difficulties, I was happy that I could help out in a positive way.

Mai when she worked as a Miko-san during her school days.

What is your favorite part of your job?  

I find working around airplanes exhilarating and I get a great sense of accomplishment each time I see a flight that I worked pushback. I also love watching airplanes fly across the sky while I work.

What is one thing your coworkers may be surprised to learn about you? 

During my time in school, I worked as a Miko-san. Miko-san is a job title for women who serve at shrines and help Shinto priests in their ministry. As a Miko-san I also performed a Kagura dance during special ceremonies for children and rang a ceremonial bell. It was a very special honor to be chosen to perform this duty.