Napier Airport (NZNR) Tower which sees 10+ flights a day was left unattended 4 times in 2 weeks last year. 2 out of 4 times the airport was left unattended for 7:20 hours. There are 5 full time Air Traffic Controllers which normally is ok, however if one pulls out of their shift it leads to issues. The Civil Avaiton Association (CAA) says that Air New Zealand and Jetstar run on Contingency Plans and must contact the CAA before landing and taking off.
Last year a flight was cancelled and took off more than a day late because the airport tower had closed. Fortunately for Napier and the future of Air Traffic Control, the CAA is trying out virtual towers, such as those in place at London City Airport so hopefully these kind of incidents don’t happen again.
My thoughts on this is that if it happens more than once the CAA need to rethink it’s policy on unmanned ATC Towers and hire more Air Traffic Controllers, however with the possibility of Virtual towers in the works I’m excited to seeing how this can further ATC in New Zealand.
if this a dup let me know I couldn’t find anything on this.