18 Sep 2018

Hawke's Bay Airport goes morning without air traffic controller

6:47 pm on 18 September 2018

Another flight was delayed this morning at Hawke's Bay Airport, due to the air traffic contol tower being without a controller.

The plane which was forced to make an emergency landing at Hawke's Bay Airport.

Hawke's Bay Airport Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

The delay comes after Napier MP Stuart Nash criticised his flight being delayed last week, because of staff shortages.

That delay was due to a controller's car breaking down on the way to work.

Today, Black Sticks hockey player Shea McAleese tweeted that his Air New Zealand flight from the Napier airport this morning was delayed due to a control tower staff shortage.

The tower was unmanned for the morning shift between 6am and 1.30pm.

"Contingency airspace procedures were put in place for these hours to allow flights to fly safely in and out of the airport without disruption.

"These airspace procedures are approved by the CAA and agreed with the airlines and airports," said an Airways spokesperson.

The spokesperson said as a smaller regional aerodrome, with 24,000 flights anually, Napier air traffic control only had five staff who worked on solo shifts.

Airways said from time to time there were pre-arranged reductions in service hours to meet staffing needs, which was the case today, rather than a staffing issue, which they experienced last week.

It said Airways was looking at new technology that could extend hours of service in regional locations such as Napier.

Hawke's Bay Airport and Air New Zealand have also been approached for comment.