Opinion · 22 Apr 2020

Opinion: Below The Radar

News Desk

News Desk

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On April 9th Airways announced on its website that it was “considering withdrawing air traffic services at seven regional aerodromes”, Invercargill being one.

This went largely unreported as it quietly slipped under the radar with stories of Covid-19 swamping the main-stream media.

It wasn’t till April 14th that the public became more aware, via social media, of this issue when New Plymouth’s mayor, Neil Holdom started a petition against the proposal.

Since then, from a public perception point of view, our local council appears to have been missing in action over this.

To cut to the chase, I took it upon myself to contact our local, and several other, MPs to express my concerns about how the closure would affect the southern region.

Clearly air safety is paramount, but I fear for our future air services, especially the hard-fought-for A320 service.

Yes – the government agreement to provide funding to the tune of $900 million to Air NZ if necessary includes a clause aimed at protecting regional air services. That clause is pretty loose however – “the agreement safeguards the domestic network, with flights assured to all current destinations.”

But what the agreement overlooks is that Air NZ will not, I understand, fly A320 passenger services into airports that don’t have local air traffic control.

So – no control tower – no more direct flight services to Auckland post Covid-19!

Losing the well patronised A320 flights would have a huge negative impact on our local economy. And of course other flights might still be cut back.

Our “well being” government has already “stolen” our SIT.

We must not let them now steal this essential infrastructure and associated air services in our region.

By Rick Harvey.

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