Flying High: Dream Career Launched from Gimpo Airport

An Interview with Jihyeong (JH) Yoo, Ground Ops Agent in Incheon (ICN)

Atlas Air Employee

JH Yoo

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, Jihyeong (JH) Yoo, Ground Ops Agent in Incheon (ICN). We were introduced to JH Yoo from Acis Tiew, Ground Instructor who described her as “energetic, enthusiastic and a quick learner, respected by her whole team.” 

JH, how long have you worked at Atlas?  

I have worked at Atlas since July 2022, which makes me the newest member of the Incheon Ground Ops team. I’m so honored to be part of this group of wonderful people. Before joining Atlas, I worked as a Loadmaster with the ground handling agency Sharp Aviation K in Incheon. I was responsible for handling Atlas operations, which was good experience for my current job.  

Where are you from?  

I am from South Korea. I lived in the western part of Seoul (capital of Korea) until I was 15 years old. This is the location of Gimpo Airport, which has both domestic and international terminals. There are restaurants, malls and a movie theater at the airport, so I spent a lot of time with my family and friends there when I was younger.   

When I think about my childhood, I remember the airplanes, the passengers, and the people working at the airport. I also recall airplanes flying in the sky every day above my neighborhood, which was home to many airline workers, particularly flight attendants. 

I think my growing up near the airport is the reason why I went into aviation. 

 Where did you go to school and what did you study? 

I received my bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at Kyeongi University in Seoul. I studied English and the literary works of famous writers such as Shakespeare and Jane Austen, as well as poetry, novels, literature and non-fiction. 

My father, who frequently traveled abroad for business, enjoyed telling me about the countries he had been to, and, perhaps because of this, I have been interested in foreign languages since I was young. When I decided to study English in college, I was sure that English would be helpful in any form, and I wanted to live a life using English in the future.  

How did you get involved in aviation?  

I was looking for an opportunity to work at an airport because of living so close to Gimpo Airport as a child. In March 2016, after graduating from college, I got a job with the Ground Handling Agency, AIR KOREA at the domestic terminal of Gimpo. While there, I worked on the passenger service team of JINAIR, a Korean LCC airline (a sister airline of Korean Air) and I was assigned to the Weight and Balance department.  

This was a turning point in my life. 

JIN Air was operating B737-800 and B777-200 and was operating belly cargos. I created the flight documents (load sheets and load plans) for all domestic flights of JINAIR. I communicated with check-in counter staff, ramp staff, and cargo workers in Gimpo, and in the terminals at various cities in Korea like Jeju, Cheongju, Pusan. This laid the foundation for my career in aviation.

I was proud of my work and happy in my role but was also ready for new challenges.  

At that time, the COVID pandemic was starting to impact operations. My weight and balance job transferred to the airline, and the department I was in, disbanded. While I was lucky to transfer internally to another department, I decided to take the opportunity to find a new role that would allow me to further grow my skillset. 

In January 2021, I joined Sharp Aviation K, the Ground Handling Agency for Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo at the Cargo Terminal in Incheon International Airport (ICN). 

That’s where my relationship with Atlas Air began. I worked as a Loadmaster and Ground Staff for Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo. This was my first time handling international/cargo freighter and I realized once again that what I had learned at Gimpo Airport was really just a small part of the load planning process. 

Thanks to my team on the ground, I was able to learn about the tasks of the job, the features of cargo freighters: B747, B777, B767; the enhanced dangerous goods handling procedures; the loading and unloading of cargo and the overall requirement of aircraft operations. 

Sometimes the job was challenging, and it was hard work, but I enjoyed working as a Loadmaster and supervising flights on the field. After that role, I moved to Atlas.  

Tell us about your current role at Atlas. 

As part of the Atlas Ground Ops team, we take care of everything to ensure all goes smoothly and safely once the aircraft arrives at our station and until it departs. We work with our vendors to adhere with Atlas Ground Ops procedures; we supervise the loading and offloading of cargo, and we monitor ramp operations when the aircraft is on the ground. ICN is one of the key stations in Asia, playing a critical role in Atlas Air’s global transport network. Our team works together to guarantee that everything runs smoothly, staying in close contact with HDQ and stations across the network.  

What is your favorite part of your job?  

My favorite part of the job is being able to work so close to the aircraft. I get to work both in the office and on the ramp, meeting and communicating with people from different departments. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see the aircraft is ready for departure. A lot of aircraft are in and out of our station. Some days are very routine, but you always have to be ready for anything; I can’t get enough of it.