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Yasmina Platt one of Hartfield-Jackson's aviation planners

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Atlanta's international airport, the world's busiest, has experienced several expansions and overhauls over the years. And it continues to be the center of development projects that benefit both passengers and employees.

Before many projects become realities, however, they pass through the hands of Yasmina Platt, one of five aviation planners for terminal and support facilities at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. At 23 years old, she is the youngest.

Platt started at Hartsfield-Jackson in June of 2008. The airport is the second company for which she has worked as a planner. She says she previously worked at a consulting firm in Houston, Texas.

"We do all the planning work that relates to any facility in the airport," says Platt. "Basically, we identify a future airport group, and plan the facility to meet that demand."

Her planning reports to her superiors, she says, include a project's or development's description, an examination of existing conditions, growth projections, planning factors, and financial calculations, among other considerations.

"This comes with your typical abstract or executive summary, appendices, etcetera," says Platt. Every project is different, and the amount of time needed for its completion varies, according to Platt. "Research is a long process," she says. "We collect it at a federal level, like the FAA."

At times, she says, she finds herself working on eight projects simultaneously, but knows how to prioritize and dedicate her time to finish each on deadline.

"You really have to juggle, and figure out a priority, and you have to be very flexible," says Platt.

Currently, she has two favorite projects: One is a long-term, strategic plan for Hartsfield-Jackson. The other is a passenger-service feature for the new Consolidated Rent-A-Car (CONRAC) facility.

"The first one will benefit the overall airport, its passengers, Atlanta and the region," she explains. "The second will also be very beneficial, but it will only benefit those passengers using the CONRAC facility, when it opens. It will make the travel experience more convenient and faster for passengers."

Not all proposed projects make the cut, she says. Once a planning report on a given project is completed, senior department of aviation managers and stakeholders decide whether the process should go forward.

"A lot of times, the cost is higher than the benefit," says Platt. "It depends a lot on the project."

Platt says she was born in La Antigua, a small town on the island of Fuerteventura, which is part of Spain's Canary Islands. Her parents, originally from mainland Spain, are teachers and obtained their first jobs in elementary education in Fuerteventura.

"Since I lived on an island, I constantly had to fly to see family," says Platt. "I knew I loved it as a kid."

According to Platt, after three years at Fuerteventura, her family moved back to Zaragoza, Spain. In 2001, she and her parents moved to Houston, Texas, and she attended North Shore Senior High School her junior year. Because of her passion for aviation, Platt decided to attend Ross Shaw Sterling High School, which had a magnet program for aviation sciences.

"I started my flight training when I was in high school, and the state paid for it," Platt says. "The best thing was getting free flying in high school, and also the instrument class, where they taught you how to fly in cloudy weather."

She says she graduated from high school in 2003, and immediately started her college education at Houston's Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she received her bachelor's degree in professional aeronautics in May 2006. In May of 2008, she received a master's degree in transportation planning and management from Texas Southern University.

"I initially wanted to be a pilot, but as I acquired more experience, I needed more of a challenge," she says, "so I discovered an interest in planning."

While working to obtain her master's degree at Texas Southern, she says she worked at the university's Center for Transportation, Training and Research (CTTR), and was a graduate research assistant. She focused on transportation research in an effort to apply her experience to aviation planning.

"I worked for [the City of] Houston, and the State of Texas," she says. "It definitely helped me develop and practice writing, understand report outlines, and helped me acquire formatting skills. It also exposed me to conferences, and gave me networking opportunities."

She later landed her first aviation-planning job with a consulting firm in Houston.

In the near future, she says, she hopes to move up the ladder, with the ultimate goal of become a director of planning someday.

"The easiest part of my job is the job itself," she says, "because most planners love our jobs. I do what I love; It's easy."