Pi­lots’ strike con­tin­ues in New Cale­do­nia, af­fect­ing sched­ules

Fiji Sun - - Sunbiz - > P8

Pas­sen­gers at Syd­ney’s do­mes­tic air­port were be­ing urged to be pa­tient as check-in staff work through long queues af­ter a radar fail­ure grounded flights for four hours.

Thou­sands of air­line pas­sen­gers were fac­ing de­lays, in­clud­ing fam­i­lies head­ing off for the school hol­i­days, fol­low­ing an air traf­fic con­trol sys­tem fail­ure in Syd­ney.

Dozens of flights have been can­celled while many more are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­lays of more than two hours.

One pi­lot de­scribed the Har­bour City’s skies as be­ing “like a ghost town” to air traf­fic con­trol as he came in to land.

Air Ser­vices Aus­tralia (ASA) said there had been a “sys­tem soft­ware fail­ure” at Syd­ney’s air traf­fic con­trol at 5:00am.

As a re­sult, only a lim­ited num­ber of flights were able to land and de­part.

ASA said the gl­itch had now been re­solved but the air­lines ex­pected dis­rup­tions to con­tinue as they dealt with a mas­sive back­log. There were long queues at checkin and trans­fer desks.

ABC News ob­tained a ra­dio ex­change from one plane land­ing at Kings­ford Smith — nor­mally the coun­try’s busiest air­port — yes­ter­day morn­ing. Pas­sen­gers were fac­ing de­lays of up to three hours while oth­ers were hav­ing to wait un­til to­mor­row morn­ing to board a flight. Some of the ma­jor air­lines ex­pect to put on ad­di­tional ser­vices to ease the dis­rup­tions.

Jan Ib­bott­son is on hol­i­days from the UK and said it was frus­trat­ing her flight to the Gold Coast was can­celled.

“I’m very calm about it, but it’s chaos,” she said.

Ms Ib­bott­son said the air­lines had not han­dled the sit­u­a­tion well. About 15 planes can land and de­part per hour us­ing man­ual air traf­fic con­trol meth­ods, but there are usu­ally about 50 move­ments per hour.

ABC jour­nal­ist Lexy Hamil­tonSmith’s 7:30am flight from Syd­ney to Bris­bane was de­layed.

She said pas­sen­gers spent more than an hour on board QF506 while the plane waited on the tar­mac, but only pas­sen­gers with no check-in bag­gage have been al­lowed to get off.

Kay Wal­lace from Bun­bury in West­ern Aus­tralia is in Syd­ney at­tempt­ing to get to Ho­bart for the 50th an­niver­sary of the Hash House Har­ri­ers so­cial run­ning club. Her flight from Perth to Mel­bourne overnight was can­celled and she was put on a flight to Syd­ney. “The back­log here has to be cleared be­fore we can even look like go­ing to Ho­bart,” Ms Wal­lace said. The ABC un­der­stands the fault re­lates to the flight plan­ning sys­tem.

This feeds into the radar pic­ture and without it, con­trollers can­not see which plane is which.

It is also be­lieved the data con­nec­tion be­tween Syd­ney and Mel­bourne was down.

The Qan­tas de­par­ture board listed flights to Mel­bourne, Bris­bane and Ade­laide “de­layed due ATC Radar Fail­ure”. Pas­sen­gers were urged to con­tact their air­lines.

Flights leav­ing Syd­ney Air­port have been tem­po­rar­ily grounded due to a sys­tems is­sue

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