If you think we have problems with air traffic control in the United States, be glad you don’t fly in New Zealand.
Air New Zealand said April 6 that it will have to cancel 25 regional flights so tower staff at five small airports can comply with new labor rules, which require lunch breaks to be scheduled, rather than letting controllers take them as the workload allows. The result is that five towers will be closed twice a day for up to 45 minutes while controllers have their meal break.
“We appear to be the victims of an overly rigid dictate to business on how to achieve a healthy and safe workplace, not to mention further constraints to the agility and adaptability we need in these incredibly challenging times,” airline spokesman Bruce Parton told reporters. He said the cancellations will take 2,500 seats out of the company’s regional capacity and cost it millions in revenue. It will also cause inconvenience for passengers at the Gisborne, Napier, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Invercargill airports. Jobs will also be lost at Air Nelson and Eagle Air, two regional carriers.