Queenstown flights cancelled due to {shortage of|deficit of} air traffic controllers

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An aerial view Queenstown Airport. (Queenstown Airport Corporation)

A number of Friday evening flights into and out of Queenstown, New Zealand’ s fourth busiest airport, have been cancelled or rescheduled because of {too many|a lot of|way too many} unwell air traffic controllers.

Airways New Zealand, the nation’ s air traffic manager, said on Friday it {did not|failed to|would not} have enough staff to operate the Queenstown Airport tower beyond 1930 local time. {This was|It was|This is} one hour and 50 minutes earlier than scheduled.

“ Airways regrets that due to unforeseen staff sickness we do not have sufficient air traffic control cover {to safely|to soundly} operate the Queenstown tower this evening, ” the Airways statement said.

“ Approximately six flights are being rescheduled and airlines are currently making other arrangements for their customers on these flights.

“ Airways has worked through all options to provide cover as normal, and has worked with airlines to investigate whether service {could be|might be|could possibly be} retained. However we have not been able to find a suitable {and safe|very safe} solution for the travelling public. ”

Airways New Zealand apologised {to all|to any or all|for all} affected travellers for the disruption.

In response to a question on Twitter, Airways New Zealand said it made every effort to cover gaps {in its|in the} rosters.

{However ,|Nevertheless ,|Yet ,} unfilled shifts could {only be|be|just be} covered by controllers qualified {to work|to operate|to be effective} at that tower.

“ E. g an Auckland controller can’ t work in Wellington unless they’ ve trained and rated there, ” Airways New Zealand explained.

Queenstown Airport said on Twitter the terminal would remain open until 2200 “ to ensure all affected passengers are looked after”.

Passengers were advised to contact their airline.

The Queenstown Airport website showed Jetstar had cancelled four flights. There were two arrivals – the JQ223 from Sydney and the JQ299 from Auckland – and two departures – the JQ220 to Melbourne and the JQ294 to Auckland.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand had moved forward its NZ628 service to Auckland from 1955 to 1910 and shifted two arriving flights from Auckland and one from Wellington to reach Queenstown {before the|prior to the|ahead of the} 1930 shutdown.

Airways New Zealand said the Queenstown air traffic control tower would re-open as scheduled at 0610 Saturday “ with no forecast gaps in coverage”.

Queenstown Airport handled 2 . 24 million passengers in calendar 2018, {the fourth|your fourth} highest among all New Zealand airports behind Wellington Airport (6. 33 million), Christchurch Airport (6. 96 million) and Auckland Airport (20. 9 million).