Ground Support Spotlight: Stavros Hatziioannou

Feb. 13, 2024
The vice president of sales and service at Goldhofer shares how his interest in specialized vehicles and aviation led to a career in the GSE industry.

Name: Stavros Hatziioannou

Job Title: Vice president of sales and service

Company: Goldhofer AG

Location: Memmingen, Germany


Ground Support Worldwide: How many years of experience do you have in ground support industry?

Stavros Hatziioannou: I have been with Goldhofer AG for 11 years in total. My former employer Schopf GmbH, whom I worked for seven years, was taken over by Goldhofer in 2013. During these 11 years, I gained my expertise in the GSE vehicle range, especially aircraft tow tractors, cargo lifters, baggage and cargo tractors. However, my first contact with the GSE industry came with my seven years' employment at Neoplan/MAN and their airport apron buses.


GSW: What attracted you to a career in the ground support industry?

SH: Personally, my eight years' older brother is Captain on the 747 Freighter, and he took me flying since I was 10 years old. I loved flying, but my major interest was the vehicle industry, where I was working for Neoplan/MAN buses and had my first contact to the GSE industry with airport apron buses. Joining a manufacturer of tow tractors seemed to be a perfect combination of a special vehicle industry in the environment of the aviation. After so many years, this has proven to be true.


GSW: What has kept you engaged in the industry?

SH: For me, the products and the technology development are fascinating. Seeing the technical progress within the last decade, working for a GSE manufacturer keeps my fascination and commitment. Also, the people working in the industry are like a family. We know and care about each other, which makes the industry special to me. Finally, I really appreciate the fact that I work in a global business, where I can learn from different countries and cultures.


GSW: What’s the best advice you’ve been given while working in this field?

SH: Be honest and authentic.


GSW: How have you seen the ground support industry change the most during your career?

SH: A major impact indeed was the electrification of GSE. This trend changed the industry a lot and led, not only to highly sophisticated products, but also did set a trend for other industries as well.


GSW: Has this change been to the benefit or detriment of the industry?

SH: Absolutely a benefit. Electrification led operational and energy cost savings which are beneficial for every airport worldwide. But also lower downtimes and lower cost for maintenance should not be underestimated as a result for GSE.


GSW: What’s the next big thing coming to the ground support industry?

SH: I think, the automation of equipment at the airport as well as autonomous or remote operation of GSE will be the next big blow for the industry.


GSW: What type of an impact will it make?

SH: Automation and autonomous operation will enable the aviation to grow, as qualified employees are increasingly hard to find. It will increase safety on the ramp and reduce accidents caused by human failures.


GSW: What would you say to encourage someone to join the ground support industry?

SH: In GSE, anyone can gain more global experience than in other industries in the same time. Finally, the products and the technology development are simply captivating.