NZALPA welcomes reports that Auckland International Airport is reviewing its recent unexpected runway closures.
NZALPA president, Captain Andrew Ridling, says the review is an important first step in urgent escalation of the issue to ensure public safety.
He says he was shocked to learn that pieces of broken concrete as big as up to 30cm by 30cm, and 12cm thick had been reported on the runway.
“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," says Andrew.
"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."
He said that the situation needed to be escalated “to whatever level is required to ensure something is done to resolve this situation, including Government intervention".
"If this issue is not dealt with in a professional and comprehensive way, it has the potential to have far greater impact on the airport and the country than the damage to the fuel pipeline that affected the airport in 2017.”
Andrew says there had been consultation and plans “but what is needed now is action”.
He welcomed the just-announced review by the airport company but cautioned that a three-week delay before review results were known was concerning.
“The review also needs to be forward looking. We can’t let this be about funding, or stop to argue whether the airport company has properly prioritised runway planning and maintenance. We have to deal with the here and now and get this very serious problem addressed immediately.
“We can’t allow the safety of our members and of the travelling public to be put at risk in this way. New Zealanders expect more of their airport companies.