Auckland Airport to review recent runway closures

10 February 2020 (Last Updated February 10th, 2020 12:01)

New Zealand's Auckland Airport has launched a review regarding the recent runway closures at the airport.

Auckland Airport to review recent runway closures
Auckland Airport has temporarily closed its runways twice in the past two weeks due to maintainance work. Credit: Land Information New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Auckland Airport has launched a review regarding the recent runway closures at the airport.

This move comes after the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) issued a safety bulletin on 6 February regarding the state of the runway.

The bulletin stated that runway 23L/05R has deteriorated over the years and the maintenance work for the runway did not keep up with the rate of deterioration.

The runway was closed twice in two weeks, once on 6 February and 24 January. These closures led to the rescheduling and delay of several flights.

However, the airport stated: “While the two recent closures were unrelated, Auckland Airport recognises they have occurred in close succession with an impact on travellers and our airline partners.

“Auckland Airport has announced it will be conducting an immediate formal review into these incidents to understand what occurred, and the speed of our response to reopen the runway yesterday. The review will be completed over the next three weeks.”

The pilots’ associations stated that the airport only has one runway, which means that there is no alternative when the runway is closed. It also stated that with the runway damage, there are concrete pieces that are 12cm thick.

The bulletin states that the frequency of the runway closures has increased over time and has advised pilots to carry 20mins additional holding fuel in cases of delays at Auckland Airport.

New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) president Andrew Ridling added: “This is extremely worrying news as runway debris can cause a range of issues for aircraft, such as a punctured fuel tank or engine failure.

“We are dealing with a very serious situation here and one that the airport company has been aware of for a very long time.

“NZALPA’s focus is safety – we make no apologies for that. We can no longer stand aside and wait for the right thing to happen. We have moved past that point.”