New Zealand flights delayed by air traffic control problem

By John Walton, April 15 2011
New Zealand flights delayed by air traffic control problem

Flights into New Zealand's major airports at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have been delayed this afternoon following a problem with the national air traffic control system.

Airport arrival and departure boards are showing numerous delays of between fifteen minutes and an hour across the three main airports, although the delays are mainly affecting domestic NZ flights.

Scattered delays to trans-Tasman flight arrivals are also shown, although it is unclear whether this is due to the air traffic control problem.

An Australian Business Traveller reader in Wellington Airport told us: "international flights seem to be on time according to the display boards".

When reached by phone, a Wellington Airport spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller: "there was an incident but now it has been fixed. Everything is running back to normal at Wellington airport."

The spokesperson referred any further questions to Airways NZ, which is New Zealand's air traffic control authority.

Australian Business Traveller spoke to an Airways NZ spokesperson, who later released a statement:

A service outage at 1.03pm this afternoon was caused by a failure of the multiplex communications network that transports voice and telephone information about our network. The failure mainly affected the upper North Island. Our initial investigation indicates a failure by a number of Telecom circuits that our system is connected to. We are working with Telecom to better understand what may have happened.

As a safety precaution departing flights were held on the ground at some airports. Those that were airborne continued to their destinations using satellite standby radios. Flights continued to be displayed on the radar system. Services south of Wellington were largely unaffected. 

The system started to come back incrementally and was back in full operation after 15 minutes.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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