Countdown: The Final Days of Austrian Airways' Station JFK

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I.

2009 was a transitional yr for Austrian Airways as an organization and in North America. More and more straddled with debt and unable to reverse the plummeting monetary state of affairs created by low price service competitors, escalating gasoline costs, and the financial recession, its very existence was threatened till a July settlement with Lufthansa-German Airways, beneath which it assumed its financial obligations and bought the vast majority of its shares, was concluded. European Union approval of the acquisition was obtained two months later.

Like many worldwide firms which were compelled to outsource features after which surrendered to takeovers, it was subjected to a number of basic adjustments, notably at its JFK station.

That is how its ultimate chapter unfolded.

II

In search of an funding associate to revive its monetary viability, Austrian Airways explored a number of choices, however step one to an answer occurred on March 2, 2009, when Lufthansa made a public provide for the tri-carrier Austrian Airways Group after it reached an settlement with the state holding firm to buy a 41.56-percent stake in it. The 4.46 euro-per-share provide, nevertheless, was contingent upon it receiving antitrust immunity and the approval of 500 million euros of restructuring assist from the state holding firm. It additionally hinged upon Lufthansa's acquisition of at the very least 75-percent of its everlasting voting shares.

For North America the clock was already ticking, and nothing foretold its destiny greater than the collection of responsibility journeys undertaken to barter new agreements. Though Austrian Airways celebrated each its 20- and 40-year transatlantic service jubilees on March 26, the event was bittersweet, because it appeared unlikely that it will obtain one other, at the very least not with its personal employees.

Certainly, throughout one of many earliest responsibility journeys to Toronto, an settlement was reached by which all operations could be assumed by Lufthansa, eliminating the necessity for its workers. It turned solely the primary of three to be signed.

Spring normally signaled renewal, however not of Austrian's employees contracts. A second Canada journey, in April, marked the transition, with JFK Station Supervisor Michael Steinbuegl overseeing the Centralized Load Management and Obligation Supervisor Dorit the passenger dealing with parts of it.

With the daybreak of Might, the primary of JFK's employees members additionally departed. Jenner, who had been employed as a Ticket Gross sales-Reservations Agent for 3 years, was laid off due to "budget-necessitated reductions," and the empty seat subsequent to Sidonie, head of the division, appeared like a void, symbolic of a strongly missed member of the family.

The dismantling continued. Whitestone, Austrian Airways' North American fortress, handed its reservations torch to Lufthansa on the tenth of the next month, or what may have been thought-about the airline model of "black Friday"

If there have been any doubts in regards to the hammer hitting the nail, they have been eradicated on August 28, when the European Fee formally authorized Lufthansa's acquisition, which itself consisted of 500 million euros of restructuring help from the state holding firm and the merger between the 2 carriers . With the intention to obtain the required antitrust immunity, nevertheless, Lufthansa agreed to relinquish key flight slots and cut back the variety of frequencies between Vienna and Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, and Stuttgart.

Austrian Airways itself was slated to turn out to be certainly one of its many unbiased, European hub carriers-in this case, a Vienna-based one feeding visitors to its Central and Japanese European locations.

The autumn fell hard-emotionally-for Austrian's JFK employees members and the responsibility journeys, throughout which the plugs to its North American stations have been pulled, continued.

Lufthansa workers have been versed in Austrian's ticketing procedures, whereas two managers departed flew to Vienna to debate ground-handling particulars in New York.

Affirmation of the stations' inevitability signaled its loss of life knoll: Lufthansa would assume all ground-handling later within the yr and all however the single JFK station supervisor and its two responsibility managers (the writer included) could be launched from their contracts at the moment. Even these, nevertheless, had six-month limitations.

The information, the equal of eradicating the wing of an plane in flight, precipitated feelings to spiral to the bottom, leading to disbelief and melancholy, and this was solely exacerbated when the top of floor operations knowledgeable Swissport that its JFK contract could be canceled on November 16.

Sharing the station's destiny together with his full-time employees members, Patrick, Austrian Airways-Swissport Account Supervisor, tried to cushion a blow that phrases couldn’t obtain.

Disappointment, demotivation, and resignation hung within the air like thick jet fumes.

The clock's hand continued to unwind and the anticipated parting phrases started to filter in. Lengthy-time Austrian Airways Station Supervisor at Washington-Dulles Worldwide Airport, Regula, as an illustration, despatched the next telex on September 14.

"As you’ll have heard," she wrote, "Lufthansa will take over the dealing with of our station tomorrow. Due to this fact, it’s time for me to say goodbye.

"It’s not straightforward, as I’ve met a number of nice folks throughout my years at Austrian Airways and I had a possibility to be taught quite a bit. With this, I want to thanks for all of your help and friendship over the previous couple of years. "

Like a brief string of dominoes, Washington was the second of the three North American stations to fall.

Of no matter small worth it served, I elected to finish every each day briefing with a "group remedy" session in order that Austrian Airways and Swissport workers may discover their feelings in regards to the pending "household break-up."

On September 15, Michael Steinbuegl, JFK Station Supervisor for 4 years, was promoted to Key Account Supervisor, North America, and have become chargeable for all three North American stations: New York, Toronto, and Washington.

The one factor anybody had now was the long run. The pinnacle of Floor Operations mentioned the explanations behind the station adjustments with the 2 remaining JFK responsibility managers, they usually subsequently met with the Lufthansa Station Supervisor to debate potential integration. Patrick held a gathering together with his personal administration to discover the migration of Swissport personnel to different JFK accounts.

Because the calendar flipped into October, one of many employees members famous on the washboard used to element the each day flight info: "Countdown: 45 days." And within the "Notes" part of the each day briefing sheet, I urged, "Smile when you nonetheless can. The times are operating out."

Clarifying the occasions, Paul Paflik, former Space Supervisor of North America, wrote, "As a result of financial surroundings, I remorse that we, as an organization, had no different option to survive however to use the total price synergies with Lufthansa wherever we may . This contains shut cooperation on the stations worldwide. It’s unhappy for a few of our devoted employees, however, once more, we had no different alternative if we wished to outlive as an organization. "

The remainder of the Austrian Airways' route system equally fell sufferer to this actuality.

A former JFK colleague, as an illustration, who had since labored at a number of different stations, wrote, "Lastly, the ax has come spherical to smite me down as effectively. I’ll go away Austrian Airways after 20 years … It appears as if I’m now not wanted inside this Austrian 'New Era.'

"We walked a 20-year path collectively, which has predictably terminated with the long-awaited 'Anschluss' we joked about many instances, however we had in some way all the time narrowly prevented. Now that the inevitable has come, it means the top for many people.

"There’s an ironic parallel to the Star Trek saga right here. Evidently we, the previous, unique crew, have been left behind in our previous ship to float away out of sight, changed by Lufthansa. The nice ship 'Austrian" is gone endlessly.

"So I say farewell with no regrets and a bag filled with fond reminiscences to take with me slung throughout my shoulder."

Andre, an Austrian Airways Cargo Gross sales Supervisor, summed up the prevailing feeling.

"What can I say," he wrote? "From the beginning, by means of the center, and to the top, your life experiences convey out your feelings."

The mixing had already begun. Launched to Lufthansa operations, I used to be requested to look at certainly one of its 747-400 flights to Frankfurt.

Unwinding to the one-month mark, the calendar's clock indicated October 15 and on the each day briefing sheet I famous, "Observe the date and rely backwards from 30 …"

Issuing the final Austrian Airways responsibility roster on October 18, the station supervisor distributed it to his employees, but it surely abruptly terminated on the 16th of November for all however two of them.

Like advancing forces, two Lufthansa Obligation Managers started to familiarize themselves with Austrian flight preparation procedures. Might there be any query now?

Halloween dawned delicate, however blustery, inflicting the streets to be blanketed with pink and gold leaves. However the blows continued internally, inside station JFK, and cargo was the following to go-and to say goodbye.

Confirming this, Peter Schleinzer, Austrian Airways North American Cargo Supervisor, despatched the next discover: "That is to advise you that Austrian Airways Cargo will probably be transferring and transferring its Air Cargo Operations and Gross sales actions from Menzies Aviation, Constructing 75, to Lufthansa Cargo , Constructing 23. "

Clearly, no division or division could be exempt.

November 1 marked the final portion of the collective Austrian-Swissport journey. Fifteen days remained till the street would fork.

The subsequent transition occurred on the ramp. In an inside e mail from Lufthansa Obligation Supervisor Edwin Haas, he wrote, "With the intention to put together for Austrian Airways, I want to guarantee that you’re all acquainted with their ramp procedures. Due to this fact, please make it possible for one agent per day is current to look at their operation. "

Data continued to be transferred. A number of Passenger Service familiarization lessons got to Lufthansa check-in employees and their supervisors have been versed on Austrian flight preparation procedures. Their blue uniform presence had already begun.

The parting messages additionally continued. Helnut Haubenwaller, Chief Boeing 767 Pilot, despatched the next e mail in early November.

"With the ultimate days for the Austrian Airways JFK Station to come back, I want to thank all of you on your skilled, solution-oriented, and always-friendly work at Terminal One. Your motivation and the standard of the dealing with of our flights has all the time been of the best degree, even when different components generally made life tough. From crew check-in to receiving the load sheet and leaving forward of schedule, all of you gave us the sensation that we have been departing a house station. know that you just did much more for our crews than anybody may have anticipated.

"As soon as once more, an enormous THANK YOU and all one of the best to all of you from Austrian Airways Flight Operations."

Attribute of any transfer was its preparation and packing. Sending the next e mail reminder to station employees, I wrote, "It’s with a heavy coronary heart and far sorrow that I need to remind everybody that the times are quickly dwindling and that we have to start the prolonged clean-up means of our 'dwelling. '' New tenants have already taken a have a look at our residence and intend to maneuver in on December 1. "

Like reminiscences, the previous flight recordsdata have been deposited into historical past.

Friday, the 13th, was a desolate, grey, wet day. Then once more, all of them gave the impression to be that fall.

The "dwelling" the employees had so painstakingly created through the years started to be dismantled, diminished to reminiscences, and their remaining time as a joint Austrian Airways-Swissport station may now be measured in hours.

Anybody clinging to the final hope of being rehired by Lufthansa was abruptly disillusioned after they learn the newest telex.

"I’ve been knowledgeable by Lufthansa at the moment," wrote the top of Floor Operations, "that, sadly, they’re unable to take over anybody from Austrian Airways on account of authorized causes."

Why would anybody count on a silver lining at midnight cloud that hovered over station JFK now?

Regardless of what could also be emotional makes an attempt to arrange for actuality earlier than it happens, the November 14 be aware on the washboard shortly nullified that principle. "Countdown: 1 day," it stated. And if it wanted any extra proof, it got here within the type of an e mail on the identical day.

"Please learn in regards to the following adjustments at JFK as of November 16, 2009," it stated:

"Supervision and Station Administration: Lufthansa.

"Passenger Dealing with and Misplaced and Discovered: Lufthansa.

"Weight and Steadiness: Centralized Load Management, Lufthansa."

The one hope anybody had now was they might quickly get up from the identical nightmare. They didn't.

One other acknowledgment of the state of affairs's finality got here within the type of a letter from Pio Neria, Swissport Terminal One Supervisor.

"Thanks very a lot for all of the issues we went by means of collectively through the previous seven years," he stated. "It was generally enjoyable and memorable.

"Mike, thanks for all the time treating the Swissport employees as one with Austrian Airways. That is one thing that doesn’t occur on a regular basis and one thing we won’t neglect.

"Robert, thanks for all of your help and for guiding and grooming the employees members."

November 15 was delicate, however grey and heavy, as if an anvil had been pounded into it, and the principally fallen leaves left the bushes naked, reflecting everybody's inside vacancy. Right this moment, they might write the final web page of Austrian Airways' station JFK historical past.

All Austrian and Swissport employees have been scheduled to work that day-or, extra precisely, to say "goodbye" that day.

Omi, sporting private garments, walked into the workplace at 11:40 and mechanically requested, "What's up?"

"Nicely, that is the final day," I hesitantly replied. "Let me see if I can discover one thing else …"

Swinging her head round, she appeared on the washboard, whose be aware hit her like a bullet. "Countdown: zero days," it stated.

The 1:30 briefing, in some way arriving extra quickly than it had on every other day, may barely help the greater than 20 employees members, as many, braking from their conventional, company-dictated roles, confirmed the group's disbandment. Damian learn a part of the briefing sheet, whereas Monica and Madaive turned non permanent "Supervisors of the day."

The "Notes" part of the briefing sheet learn: "Final day, final briefing, final chapter."

Flooded with emotion, I learn the "Parting Speech" I had ready, however typically felt as if I have been wading my approach by means of a thick trench.

"On New Yr's Day, January 1, 2003," I started, "I sat at my typical desk and then-Station Supervisor Mary Tretter walked into this very workplace. Lufthansa, which had carried out most of Austrian Airways' ground-handling at JFK in Terminal One since Austrian itself joined the Star Alliance, handed the torch to Swissport USA that day. Since Lufthansa was effectively acquainted with our procedures and used their very own laptop system, she had some trepidation in regards to the transition, wanting me within the eyes and asking , 'Are we actually going to undergo with this at the moment?' That was January 1, 2003. Right this moment is November 15, 2009, or nearly seven years later. The interval proves two issues to me:

"First, that point passes a lot quicker than you assume. And second, that nothing within the bodily world is everlasting. All the pieces has a starting and the whole lot has an ending. And I believe you already know which finish we're at at the moment. a lot in these briefings. Now now we have one final order of enterprise to complete-namely, to say goodbye.

"All of us traveled this street collectively. For some it was longer than for others, however the variety of faces seen and the occasions skilled throughout that point, each good and dangerous, is nearly unfathomable.

"The street, nevertheless, is definitely a shorter portion of the longer 'life street' all of us stroll on a regular basis, in that each function developmental paths and thresholds to our final, increased existences.

"Of that improvement, there are two sorts. The primary, the skilled one, contains studying, understanding, and performing job-related features, similar to Passenger Verify-In, Ticketing, Baggage Providers, Ramp Supervision, Load Management, and Administration. The second, the non-public one, offers extra with character and character refinement, strengthening, and progress. You may have all, whether or not you realize it or not, engaged in each sorts right here, the place many profitable skilled and private chapters of your personal lives For a lot of of you, Swissport basically, and Austrian Airways particularly, served as your entry into the airline trade. None of you’ll go away at the moment the identical approach you got here in – that’s, while you first started your employment with us.

"Annie, as an illustration, is certainly one of solely two remaining from the unique staff and holds the third highest seniority of anybody on the station. Having weathered the Delta Air Traces code-share settlement, the joint Austrian Airways-Sabena-Swissair station beneath the Atlantic Excellence banner, the Star Alliance, quite a few floor dealing with firms and ideas, and 4 terminals, she was instrumental in constructing JFK over the previous 15 years, and has carried out Passenger Service, Ticket Gross sales-Reservations, Ramp Supervision, and even Obligation Supervisor features , in addition to a myriad of different actions too quite a few to quote right here.

"Sidonie, with whom I’ve shared extra alternate names and recipes than every other particular person, led her staff to and on the Ticket Gross sales-Reservations counter.

"Dorit, who joined the JFK staff as Obligation Supervisor in 2006, was instrumental in creating the North American Station Ticketing Procedures Coaching Program, having ceaselessly taught in Chicago, Toronto, and Washington, in addition to having having carried out this operate right here at JFK.

"Ecaterina was certainly one of solely two to transition from Swissport to Austrian Airways, and through her five-year tenure has carried out Passenger Service and Ticket Gross sales features.

"And Susanna, who was the one one to affix the airport employees from Whitestone, equally carried out Ticket Gross sales features. Though she was solely with us for six months, we shortly got here to like her.

"Patrick, with Swissport, has held Passenger Service Agent, Ramp Supervisor, Load Controller, Lead Agent, and Account Supervisor positions; has taken 9 native programs throughout the Austrian Airways North American Station Coaching Program and two in Vienna; and is the second Load Controller to have been licensed on the native degree. In his private life, he had a son, earned his Non-public Pilot License, and accomplished his Bachelor of Science diploma in aviation.

"David achieved most of the similar issues: he carried out Passenger Service, Baggage Providers, Ramp Supervision, and Load Management features; took six native programs and one in Vienna; was the third regionally licensed Load Controller; and likewise had a son.

"Josue, the fourth regionally licensed Load Controller, carried out Passenger Service, Ramp Supervision, and Load Management features; took seven native programs and one in Vienna; and later accomplished load sheets for Saudi Arabian Airways and Turkish Airways.

"Omar, who joined the Austrian Airways account from Royal Air Maroc, was the Baggage Providers / Misplaced and Discovered Lead Agent and ran an exemplary division, establishing procedures, organizing, coaching Whaid and Steven, and even structuring different North American Baggage Providers departments. Due to his efforts and contributions, JFK gained an award for its enchancment.

"Omi and Berqui, having each commenced their careers with Swissport in Passenger Service, have been equally promoted to Lead Brokers of the Austrian Airways account. They intermittently accomplished their college diploma research, and Omi even pursued a minor in aviation. .

"Damian, having spent greater than half a decade with Swissport-Austrian Airways, carried out Passenger Verify-in, Arrivals, Flight Controller, and Departure Gate features, however Austrian Airways was greater than only a 'job' for him: it was his household , his buddies, his laughs, his holidays, and his annual ski journey holidays to the Poconos. For him, it was 'dwelling.' Actually, he twice ran away from dwelling, to different airline accounts, throughout his five-year tenure, and twice he got here again.

"Passenger Service and Ramp Supervision contributions have been additionally made by everybody else, together with Syed, Kewal, Lorena, Cristina, Monica, Pinky, Madaive, Wendy, and Jean.

"Due to all of you, JFK might be credited with quite a few strengths, accomplishments, and successes.

"And in case you assume I forgot Mike, assume once more. He’s singularly chargeable for cultivating the environment and orchestrating the steps that allowed each certainly one of these strengths and accomplishments to have been made right here. Should you assume he’s like most station managers, you higher assume once more. He’s a uncommon breed certainly!

"My very own accomplishments might be mirrored by the quite a few roles I performed right here: supervisor, director, mentor, psychologist, trainer, author, journey agent, entertainer, jokester, recipe creator, alternate identify supplier, and even Omi's father.

"All through our joint historical past, there was by no means any barrier between the 2 teams, only a seamless interface between Austrian Airways and Swissport-in different phrases, humanity connecting with humanity, no matter which firm they labored for.

"I may cite the financial causes – though nobody would agree with them – why this needed to finish at the moment. But when it had not been for them, it will have ended anyway, a technique or one other. Do I say this as a result of I do know of some deep, darkish secret from Vienna? No, I say it as a result of, as beforehand talked about, nothing is everlasting on this bodily world, and it prepares us, in some small approach, for the sometimes-difficult job of transferring to the following stage of our improvement. Once we are completed with that phase, we should go away it behind. Sometime, after we 'stroll' all of the developmental paths of our lives right here, we are going to go away all of them behind.

"Right this moment might function one small preparation for that inevitability. However, paradoxically, that’s once we will regain the bond we have been compelled to interrupt at the moment. That’s once we will see one another, on a regular basis, when there are not any days left down right here .

"I have no idea if we are going to stroll the identical path once more on this existence. However I do know that, no matter paths you do stroll, in case you stroll them effectively, and accurately, and ethically, that all of them will result in the identical destination-up there.

"Your tears are tears of conversion – an try to 'convert again' these empty pockets you’ll assuredly really feel while you go away right here tonight – as you 'disconnect' from everybody, as a result of, you see, this started as a venue the place we might work collectively, but it surely ended up one the place we performed collectively, and laughed collectively, and cried together-in different phrases, we quickly re-merged into the 'oneness' from which all of us got here.

"And now comes the tough half – abandoning what we created and making a big life change. Change is one thing everybody resists, but it’s really the mechanism by which we’re moved to the following stage of our developmental paths.

"Right this moment, I would like you to take three issues with you.

"First, I would like you to take all of your professional-level studying experiences with you, whether or not they concern check-in or load management or ticketing.

"Second, I would like you to take your nice reminiscences with you. For every of you, they are going to be totally different. They could be a joke, a humorous identify, a look, the cheese offered by Rocio, the Secret Santas at Christmas, the ski journeys, or the pumpkin soup served throughout Thanksgiving. No matter they’re, cherish them. And bear in mind, nobody can take them away from you.

"And at last, I would like you to take with you the 'greater image' lesson that was taught here-namely, that, while you give to others what you your self have been given, whether or not you’re requested to or not and whether or not you’re paid to or not, {that a} concord outcomes, and that you’re not solely part of that concord, however the partial creator of it.

"And now, because the clock quickly consumes our ultimate hours collectively, the final order of enterprise is to thank every and everybody of you on your time, efforts, contributions, concepts, jokes, and laughs-your presence. I thanks for letting me lead you.

"Every certainly one of you is one small motive why, collectively, we have been one massive success.

"I want you that very same diploma of success as you permit right here at the moment, as you write the following chapter of your lives and observe the following a part of your developmental path.

"Till we see one another again-and we are going to …"

Throughout the speech, it was tough to gauge which sound was louder: the uncontrollable sobs or the stark silence.

Cameras, flashing all through the day on the check-in counter, captured the ultimate closing of the plane door – an image of a waving flight attendant, a second of Austrian Airways' JFK historical past frozen in time and endlessly preserved.

Miserable the button on my radio, I introduced, "The final Austrian-Swissport 088 is off the blocks at 42 previous the hour," or 13 minutes forward of schedule with 30 enterprise and 176 financial system class passengers on board.

And with the final flight, even Kewal was granted his long-awaited want: he lastly ramped the plane, with Cristina.

Amid laptop twine disconnections, emptying cabinets, and furnishings motion within the workplace – a bit by piece dismantling of our seven-year "dwelling" – a post-departure and post-station celebration ensued, highlighted by visits of greater than a dozen prior Austrian Airways and Swissport workers who felt compelled to return "dwelling" one final time, and ended with the inevitable tears and the draining emotionalization generated by each ultimate "goodbye" as they left-that is, with each ultimate disconnection .

One way or the other appropriately, I accompanied Annie to the parking zone. We have been the primary to work for Austrian Airways, tracing our respective roots to 1989 and 1994, and we have been the final to depart.

"For God's sake," Annie exclaimed, "I've recognized you for 16½ years," as tears preceded a ultimate hug.

Driving away from the airport that night time, I felt essentially the most overwhelming sense of vacancy I had ever skilled in my life.

III

The ultimate nail had been hammered into Austrian Airline's North American operation, sealing its destiny. JFK was the third and final station to have been ceded to Lufthansa, after Toronto and Washington, and its reservations division, Whitestone headquarters, and cargo dealing with had additionally been misplaced within the course of.

In November, Swissport, its seven-year floor handler, handed the torch to Lufthansa, and station JFK, each North America's first and final, closed its doorways to autonomous dealing with after 21 years.

My vacancy, now coupled with numbness, continued the next morning.

Ecaterina, representing the final thread to the now-closed play, stopped by to choose up some private belongings, however as I escorted her to the escalator, I noticed her take one final look on the ticket counter that had served as her each day "dwelling "for the previous three years. Watching her recede, I noticed her type the phrase "goodbye" on her lips, however she refused to match it with the sound that will have finalized its actuality.

The final transfer was my very own – the relocation to certainly one of two responsibility supervisor desks within the Lufthansa workplace. How lengthy I’d sit there and would I ever equate these new environment with the phrase "dwelling" have been questions that filtered by means of my thoughts.

Now not in uniform, each I and the opposite Austrian Obligation Supervisor wore enterprise apparel and have been now chargeable for the each day operation of 5 Air China, Austrian Airways, and Lufthansa flights.

Untethered to the household I had recognized, I felt displaced, as if I now not belonged there. Then once more, there was little "Austrian Airways" left to which to belong. Infiltrated with emotions of guilt, I questioned why I had survived the transition whereas most of my colleagues had not.

Throughout passenger check-in, which had been relocated from aisle H to aisle G, I stole a look on the former Austrian Airways ticket counter. It solely revealed emptiness-no pink uniforms, no Annie, no Sidonie, no Jenner, no Ecaterina, no Susanna-and two keyboards their palms would by no means once more contact.

The identical Austrian 767-300, registered OE-LAX, departed from the identical gate that day because it had the earlier one, however, now dealt with by brokers I used to be solely acquainted with and who wore blue Lufthansa uniforms, it appeared totally different and in some way far faraway from the one I had all the time recognized. What a distinction a day could make.

I considered the 4 no-longer current Ticket Brokers who have been laid off and their empty chairs. Six months from now, I felt, mine could be certainly one of them. (It was.)

IV

The morning of December 31 revealed a remodeled world. The bottom was coated with a light-weight blanket of snow and the bushes, like an countless line of brown sculptures, appeared coated in white sugar.

Re-entering the now-former Austrian Airways workplace, I walked by means of it, permitting the previous to replay within the present-in my thoughts.

I appeared on the slim room the place the Baggage Providers Division had been positioned and the numerous, generally multi-faceted briefings had occurred, earlier than transferring into the primary workplace.

Passing the realm the place a desk extension had as soon as stood, I considered the lots of of cockpit crew briefings that had been held there and the makeshift "buffet" that it had turn out to be throughout holidays, displaying birthday truffles and Thanksgiving dishes.

Eyeing the ground in entrance of what had been the load management desk, I may simply detect the place the small Christmas tree had been yearly positioned, at the very least in my creativeness.

Visualizing the chair the place David, one of many three load controllers, sat, I swore his each day query reverberated in my thoughts.

"Robert, are we closed but," he would ask, in anticipation of sending the load sheet?

Sure, David, I answered, completely.

Stark and silent, abandoned and devoid, the Austrian Airways workplace now appeared like a dull stage the place the previous seven years had performed out. However the desks have been gone. A cupboard door, nonetheless ajar, revealed an empty shelf. A chunk of tape was nonetheless caught to the wall, however no matter had been affixed to it had apparently way back relinquished its grip. And an previous boarding move resting on the ground appeared to bear the collective shoe prints of the numerous lots of who had labored there.

Someplace, on the stroke of midnight, somebody clinked glasses of champagne, amidst one other dusting of snow, to ring within the New Yr, however nobody was current to listen to them. The soul that was Austrian Airways had departed the station.



Source by Robert Waldvogel

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