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Many people play an important role in ensuring a safe take-off and landing. The airport ramp agent springs into action as soon as an aircraft touches down to guide it through its manoeuvres. In this article, AEROAFFAIRES tells you all about this job, which is essential for all take-offs and landings: training, qualities required to be a good ramp agent, salary and career development.


Ramp Agents: job description


The airport ramp agent is the assistant to the traffic officer. They play a vital role in the smooth running of traffic on the tarmac. In airports, there is an order given to the planes to take off and land. That’s why you have to wait a few minutes before you can take off, until it’s your turn.

The tasks of the airport ramp agent are varied:

  • loading
  • unloading
  • baggage transfer
  • towing
  • placing holds, etc.

He may decide to specialise in one of these tasks.


Before landing, he prepares all the equipment needed to handle the aircraft on the ground : baggage carts, conveyor belts, tractors, lifts. Then, he/she is in charge of stowing all this equipment.


In addition, the airport ramp agent provides assistance in moving the aircraft on the taxiways. He or she directs the aircraft to the parking area and places the chocks under the wheels of the landing gear after the aircraft has come to a complete stop.


The airport ramp attendant may also specialise as a baggage handler. He transports luggage between the airport and the aircraft and vice versa during a landing. After checking in the luggage, he/she X-rays all the suitcases before they are taken to the aircraft’s hold. This step ensures the safety of the passengers for their flight.


He or she works in an airport area, on the runways and in all weathers, with shifting and variable working hours, whether on weekdays, weekends or even public holidays. Planes take off every day, so ramp agents are needed every day  : helmet, gloves, safety shoes and fluorescent waistcoats.


What qualities are required to be good at this job ?


First of all, an airport ramp agent must have a clean criminal record, which is required to obtain the airport traffic permit allowing him/her to circulate in the reserved areas. In particular, they must have a B licence.


They must also :

– Be in excellent physical condition. A sports test is carried out when you are recruited.

Be able to withstand climatic conditions, given the constant exposure to the outside elements.

– Have good self-control

Be able to think ahead. Indeed, it is important to anticipate every manoeuvre.

Be quick and efficient with your hands. When the plane lands, you only have a few minutes to park it and take the luggage from the hold to the airport.

Have a basic knowledge of English, especially technical English. Communication with pilots and the control tower is done in English.


Studies and training to become a ramp agent


There is no specific training to become a ramp agent. However, it is preferable to have a vocational training certificate (CAP) or a professional baccalaureate in the field of transport.


It is only after selection and recruitment that the candidate follows the regulated training courses:

training in “gestures and postures” in order to be able to communicate with the pilots and other ramp agents

“loading and unloading” training

– the “security of the runway and cargo profession” training

These training courses take place in training centres and generally take 8 to 10 days.


A ramp agent also passes the T (apron) and M (manoeuvring area) permits. This is why a B licence is a compulsory prerequisite.


Selection and recruitment can be done by airlines, airport managers, airport handling companies or even the military.


What is the salary of a ramp agent ?


An entry-level airport ramp agent is paid the minimum wage. However, bonuses are added.


What career development is possible ?


With experience, the Ramp Agent can perform towing operations and helmet departure operations in English.

Then, the ramp agent can progress to a position of team leader, traffic or operations agent and supervisor.