Traffic control cleared for take-off

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Invercargill airport chief executive Nigel Finnerty PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO

AFTER more than a year of uncertainty about Invercargill Airport’s air traffic control services, its chief executive is looking to the future now it has been confirmed they will remain.

Airways New Zealand last week announced the services would be retained at Invercargill Airport.

In May 2020 it launched a review of the air traffic control services it provided at seven regional airports that had reduced traffic volumes, including Invercargill Airport and Milford Sound Piopiotahi Aerodrome.

It previously said the review’s purpose was two-fold: to confirm the right level of air traffic control was provided at the airports, and that appropriate agreements were in place for funding those services.

The Civil Aviation Authority in May endorsed the aerodrome’s decision its service should remain.

While there was no air traffic control at Milford Sound, it used the Aerodrome Flight Information Service instead.

It has now done the same for Invercargill Airport, following an aeronautical study.

Invercargill Airport chief executive Nigel Finnerty said the study looked at the aviation activity in its airspace, which found the current levels of air traffic management would deliver the safest outcomes for all aviation users of the airport.

He was pleased the authority supported the recommendations.

“This decision will allow the company to continue to grow and develop the scope of aviation operations in Invercargill.”

The decision said that after assessing the Aeronautical Study on Aerodrome and Aircraft Traffic Management submitted by Invercargill Airport Ltd the recommendation to retain the Aerodrome Control Service was supported.

Invercargill Airport Ltd board chairman Grant Lilly was pleased with the decision.

“The safe, reliable and efficient operation of our airport is critically important to our connectivity with the rest of New Zealand, as well as the growth and development of the region in the future,” he said

Flight numbers in and out of Invercargill were close to pre-Covid levels, something Airways NZ chief executive Graeme Sumner said was a positive sign for the industry.

“Invercargill Airport also plays an important part in supporting regional connectivity as it acts as an alternate option for Queenstown Airport during winter ski season and weather diversions.”

It was welcome news to its Invercargill staff, he said.

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