Staff Interviews

Aiming for lofty heights
together with trusted colleagues

Ground Handling

Hinata Nakagawa

Joined NRTAS in 2018

blue grade

Meeting an impressive peer at a briefing session.

I grew up near the Niigata Airport, so airports always felt like a natural part of life. In my job search, I was interested in working for a travel agency or in the bridal industry, but I happened to attend an NRTAS briefing and met an employee who made an impression on me. They looked so accomplished talking enthusiastically about their work and I thought, “I want to work with this person.” I didn’t know yet what I wanted to do but I did like the airline industry, so I decided to join NRTAS.

After starting to work at NRTAS, I was assigned to a department that handles passenger aircraft handling. I dove into my work with the goal of becoming like that senior peer. That person worked with cargo aircraft, but in my seventh year at NRTAS, I was placed in the same department as them. Now I teach them what I know about passenger aircraft and they teach me what they know about cargo aircraft. We have a relationship where we can fill in each other’s gaps in knowledge.

Understanding customers’ feelings about their pets, too.

Currently, I handle five to seven flights a day as the person responsible for the airside safety operations on ANA’s international and domestic routes. My work involves checking to ensure that everything has been loaded in the predetermined location, including cargo, mail and luggage, from the side of the aircraft. After identifying what cargo is marked as hazardous, I inform the captain before departure of their classification and perform temperature management to protect the safety of all goods loaded on the airplane.

One job that I do with extra care is handling dogs and cats and other pets. The dogs and cats that customers entrust to us are loaded into a dark space together with other cargo. I do everything I can to ensure that pets are also able to feel comfortable while in the aircraft and think about whether they are okay or whether it feels stifling as if I were their owner. I get them in the aircraft quickly when it’s cold out and make sure they are promptly reunited with their owner after a flight has landed. The ground handling crew has a limited number of people, but I try to set an example in how I look after pets, because I also think of them as valued customers that we should care for.

Further enhancing ANA’s cargo transportation quality.

In addition to being responsible for passenger aircraft duties, I’m also involved in loading operations for cargo aircraft. After cargo needs increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have earned positive reviews from many different companies for our careful ground handling with ANA’s cargo aircraft.

Narita has a season where it’s humid and rains frequently, but fresh products such as produce and fish often arrive without waterproof covers. Whether it’s a passenger aircraft or a cargo aircraft, I take the greatest care to make preparations such as having plastic on hand so that products can be sent on to the next airport while maintaining their unmarred state and without water damage. 

Putting plastic coverings on products was a suggestion volunteered by an NRTAS employee, and just like that, it became an established practice. Narita Airport is the only airport where ANA handles cargo flights, and as the phrase “Narita pride” suggests, the ANA Group works together as a team to raise quality at Narita. All employees from the newest members to those with the most years of experience are filled with motivation to enhance quality.

NRTAS is ever proud of its people.

“No employees goof off.” This is something we hear at NRTAS. If someone has time to spare, they check over the radio if there are any flights that need help and go out to them right away. Everyone helps each other out to ensure that no matter what, the flights leave on time. This culture gave rise to that expression.

NRTAS has an atmosphere of mutual respect, warmth and friendliness that supersedes seniority. I feel like people really do maintain good relations with others in the workplace. Narita Airport has renowned, world-leading handling quality that serves as a model for foreign airports. One big factor that makes this possible is the good relations among employees.

Employees take their work seriously and don’t engage in chit-chat before a flight departs, but you can often see us chatting in the brief time after one flight takes off and before we’re preparing for the next flight. In addition to banter about what we’re eating for lunch or what activities we’re into lately, we also teach each other all kinds of things regardless of seniority, such as operations to follow-up or do better on and the latest information from Narita Airport. I think who I’m working with is more important than what work I’m doing. Even if there are difficulties and I struggle at times, I am where I am now because of the help I get from the people around me. The people and the company culture are great. If you’re a student and want to work in this kind of workplace, I hope you come check out a NRTAS briefing session.

A typical day’s schedule
  • 14:00

    Arrive at work

    After arriving at work, there is a morning meeting and I spend 15 minutes going to my office in the airport.

  • 14:30

    Prepare supplies  

    I prepare the supplies I’ll use that day in the office. 

    I also get the latest information by email.

  • 15:00

    Responsible for passenger flight duties

    I’m in charge of 3–4 flights on average, which are a combination of departing and arriving flights in the bank of flights arriving from Asia around 15:00 and the flights departing for Asia and the USA around 17:00–19:00.

  • 19:00

    Break (1 hour)

  • 20:45

    (1) Responsible for passenger flight duties or (2) loading operations for a cargo flight

    (1) I’m in charge of flight NH182 (route using an Airbus A380) with a 21:30 departure.

    (2) I’m in charge of loading operations for a cargo flight to Asia with a 22:00 departure. 

  • 22:30

     Finish work

    I attend the end-of-day meeting and finish work.


My favorite parts of Narita

  • Satellite Office 3

    As the place where I communicate with lots of different employees, this place is the most engaging.

  • Beside an aircraft

    I wish everyone could experience the thrill of being right next to an aircraft.

  • Observation deck

    I’ve always like watching aircraft since I first started at NRTAS, and this place reminds me of my student days.

World Map