Hawke’s Bay Airport control tower wins reprieve from Airways

Hawke’s Bay Airport has won a reprieve from Airways following a review of its air traffic control needs but the axe still hangs over other centres.

Airways today announced that an independent aeronautical study has determined that the airport’s existing air traffic control (ATC) service should stay.

Those still under review are Gisborne, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Invercargill airports, and the airfield flight information services provided at Kapiti Coast Airport and Milford Sound Piopiotahi Aerodrome.

Airways and Hawke’s Bay Airportwill now begin discussions on a revised commercial agreement to cover the service in the future.The axe has hovered over the service since May last year

following a review of the air traffic services at seven regional airports which had reducing traffic volumes.

Thereview was aimed at confirming that the ”right level” of air traffic control was provided at the airports, and that appropriate agreements are in place for funding these services.

The first step in the process has been for involved airports to undertake aeronautical studies to examine their individual airspace environments.

During the past six months, Hawke’s Bay Airport has with Airways on its aeronautical study with modelling out to 2045.

Hawke’s Bay Airport chief executiveStuart Ainslie said the study has considered input from

stakeholders, including airlines, on what passenger numbers and aircraft movements will look like under a number of scenarios – including the pandemic.

Air traffic controllers at Hawke’s Bay oversee aircraft in their first and last stages of flight, as they take off and land at the airport. The airspace nearby ismanaged by Airways’ radar centre based in Christchurch.

Airways chief executive Graeme Sumner said thegoal has been to make sure there is an evidence-based service in place at Hawke’s Bay Airport.

”That means safety remains paramount, without imposing unnecessary cost onto the airlines and other operators who fly in and out,” he said.

The study will not need Civil Aviation Authority review.

Both Hawkes Bay Airport and Airways have been hit hard by Covid-19.

The airport lost just over $1 million in the year to June 30 as passenger numbers slumped.

In the previous year it made a $1.5m profit.

Hawke’s Bay Airport Ltdis 24 per cent owned by Hastings District Council , 50 per cent by the Crown and 26 per cent by Napier City Council.

Airways has slumped to a $13.8 million loss for the six months ending December 31, 2020.

This compared with an after-tax profit of $16.2m for the same period the previous year, in an aviation sector which had been growing quickly before Covid-19, and where Airways is a monopoly supplier for airlines.

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