Bussing it for ABM

posted on 5th June 2023
Bussing it for ABM

Cara Buckland is relatively new to the airside bussing manager role at ABM Aviation, but is clearly settling in very quickly. She talks about her experiences in the position

When did you take on the new position and which role had you occupied previously?

I started the role in November 2022. Previously, I worked on the ground at the Covid test site at Gatwick Airport, before moving into a planning role in November 2021 and then transitioning into my current role.

Can you tell us what the responsibilities of this position are?

My responsibility is the day to day running of the bussing operation. This includes managing the co-ordination of the airside drivers and optimisation of the fleet of 14 buses and two minibuses.
Part of my role is ensuring prompt and efficient use of resources for passenger and crew transport and managing reporting for airlines and the airport. I also maintain and manage resource and fleet levels while supporting the daily ABM aircraft cleaning operation and daily auditing to ensure safe working.

How many people do you have on your team, and are they predominantly male?

There are 35 drivers and four allocators in the team. We have one woman in that team. I also work alongside another bussing manager, who is male.
Pre-Covid, we were seeing more female applicants for the role of PCV [passenger carrying vehicle] driver. It would be nice to see more women joining us on the Gatwick bussing operation in the future.

Is it a challenge to work in a predominantly male environment?

I will admit that there was some apprehension about moving into such a male-dominated work environment. I wasn’t sure if being a younger female might affect how I was accepted.
Although my apprehension is an example of how many women feel in the workplace, I was pleasantly surprised at how I was welcomed into the role. Everyone has been very helpful in assisting learning the role. It’s great to see that the bias we know exists isn’t something that inevitably plays out.

How has the role changed – if at all – as a result of Covid, would you say? Are customer expectations now different at all?

As aviation continues on its recovery journey, the entire aviation industry is focused on ensuring excellent passenger experience because, ultimately, we want them to come back.
We are expecting the summer period to be busier than ever and so it’s all hands on deck to ensure we’re ready.

How, long-term, do you think that airside bussing might change? How will ABM adapt and evolve as a result?

I think the airside operation will continue to grow as aviation gets busier following the pandemic.
Electric vehicles will absolutely be part of the future and will be a focus as we see the industry stabilise. ABM has been working on this change for some time – trialling electric buses has been under way across the business and we have already taken delivery of electric buses at Gatwick, as well as the first of two fully electric boarding vehicles for passengers with reduced mobility or injuries at our Manchester operation.