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Working group formed to address air traffic control removal issue

Gisborne Airport representatives have joined other regional airports to assess the implications of removal of air traffic controllers from their airports.

National air traffic control provider Airways New Zealand last month announced an intention to change or withdraw air traffic control services at a number of regional airports, including five staff from Gisborne.

That led to an outcry from local pilots and the New Zealand Air Line Pilots Association.

Gisborne Airport operator Eastland Group yesterday said representatives from Gisborne Airport had formed a working group with two other affected airports — Hawke's Bay and New Plymouth.

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd said the group would work with Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority to better understand the implications of Airways' proposal, as well as considering alternatives.

“We have sought feedback from those who currently use air traffic control services at Gisborne Airport,” Mr Todd said.

“There are a wide range of views and, understandably, some concerns. Our absolute priority is to ensure the ongoing safe operation of the airport for everyone who flies to or from Tairawhiti.

“This process will take time and careful consideration. It will involve us investigating all sensible options and consulting further with airport stakeholders and users.

“Any alteration to the existing arrangement will require a safety case for the proposed changes to be completed.

“Ultimately it is the CAA as regulator who must decide what is or isn't acceptable.

“We have formed a working group that includes Hawke's Bay and New Plymouth airports as they are in the same situation as us. We believe there are benefits to collaborating and considering potential solutions together.”

Airways is to withdraw air traffic control services from its towers at Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Invercargill airports.

  1. Phil Goodwin, Secretary GMAC says:

    The Gisborne Model Aeroplane Club flies just inside the 4km radius of the airport, so to fly we require permission from ATC. This works really well. However, if ATC is not available we require permission from the airport operator, and this does not work well. Finding an alternative flying site not too far from town is very difficult as there is a noise factor.