Chris Ion, aviation development executive, Newcastle International airport, tells Andrew Doherty about his passion for the North East and his dedication to promoting it.
What was your first job in travel?
I started off as a holiday rep for Tui in 2010, which was also the year of the volcanic ash cloud. I had only been on the job for a week, but the experience helped teach me how to interact with clients under difficult circumstances.
When did you start working in aviation?
I started working for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays as an airline revenue analyst in 2013 before moving to Qatar Airways, where I joined the business development team. Next up was a stint at Doncaster Sheffield airport as an aviation development manager, where I stayed for ten months - this was the role that I always wanted to do.
What are your day to day responsibilities as an aviation development executive?
Moving back up to the North East and to Newcastle airport was great because I’m from the area and my family live there. So it really doesn’t feel like work. My role involves providing account management and market analysis for airlines to help develop new routes to emerging destinations.
Most challenging aspect of the job?
We’re a small team with quite a few airlines to manage. However, that is what makes my role interesting. I love my job because it affords fantastic networking opportunities where I can meet and learn from interesting people.
How do unwind after work?
I try to go to the gym as much as possible and love keeping fit. I enjoy seeing friends and going out. I particularly like the independent scene in Bristol, visiting the bars, restaurants and shops.
Where have you enjoyed travelling to?
I love the culture, food and villages of Spain. I also love visiting Amsterdam and Budapest.
The best piece of advice you’ve received?
Someone once said to me if something looks bad then it probably is. I put a lot of effort and pride into my work - the small details are important. I make sure everything I work on is clear and concise and not like something that’s been pulled together in a rush.
I was also told to always help people when you’re on the way up because you might need them on the way down. Despite the competitive nature of travel, people are really friendly and want to see you succeed.
What are you looking to glean from the 30 Under 30 programme?
The networking aspect is important to me. Travel can be quite siloed, so meeting with people outside aviation and learning about how they work with their clients is fantastic. Most customer journeys start at the airport, and anything I can do to improve their experience will be a win-win situation.
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
I’m content with where I’m at. I love the airport and the region, but you have to live in the moment and take life as it comes. If you look to the future and it doesn’t meet your expectations, then you might be disappointed.