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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) today applauded the government’s decision to conduct a review of the country’s air navigation services. 

NZALPA has spent over 18 months raising concerns about the performance of the national air navigation service provider, Airways New Zealand, and its plans to pull out of its core role of providing services to over half of New Zealand’s regional airports. 


“As New Zealand’s largest pilot union, NZALPA also represents every air traffic controller in the country and flight service personnel,” said international pilot and NZALPA President, Captain Andrew Ridling.


“Ministry of Transport briefings, recently released under the Official Information Act, raised concerns well before the Covid-19 pandemic and its huge impact on the global aviation industry. 


“Airways’ decision to potentially remove air services from seven regional airports, including the tourism hub of Rotorua, was based on questionable forecasting of regional air traffic levels during the national Covid-19 lockdown and appears to have been planned well before the pandemic struck. 


“There was little regard for the obvious and devastating effects this would have on aviation safety, and connectivity to our regions and the communities involved, should the proposal go ahead. 


“In our view, this was an egregious decision and looked to also take advantage of a crisis. 


“As the Ministry says, air navigation services are critical to the safe operation of the aviation system and New Zealand needs an economically viable, safe and innovative air space ecosystem which enables all users to operate seamlessly.


“The documents also advise that any air services removal, or airport closures, would reduce regional resilience, reduce the access those communities have to essential services, including medical services, as well as to social and economic opportunities.


“We agree with the Ministry that, given the current issues with Airways’ performance and management of New Zealand’s air navigation system and delivery of its core role, a review should be undertaken of navigation and aircraft surveillance, regulatory, funding and institutional settings. 


“In the considerable and collective experience of our members, NZALPA would like to add governance issues, leadership, and internal culture to the review, particularly given our serious concerns about Airway’s mandate and delivery of its core services.


“Despite ‘consultation’ with industry held on its terms, as a state-owned enterprise Airways has literally been operating ‘under the radar’ of public scrutiny and requires a good hard look under the bonnet.


“We’ve met with the Minister of Transport and officials and give the government our full support on the review, including offering our expertise and services,” said Captain Ridling.




Media contact: 

Lisa-Marie Richan 027 278 0441

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