If an airport is open to international flights, it should have all necessary systems in place to cope with passengers says the Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ).
Cath O’Brien, executive director of BARNZ, says there is nothing to be gained by trying to blame someone for leaving more than 100 transiting passengers to sleep on a corridor floor at Auckland Airport this week.
“It should never have happened, and I feel for those people,” Ms O’Brien says. “If the airport is open to receiving flights, all systems must be in place to process people. Screening transit passengers is a critical part of that.
“Nor does BARNZ think that repurposing a departure lounge, so people can huddle in there with no access to facilities that you would expect at international transit lounges, is a real solution. The aviation system needs to work together to make sure screening takes place and people are cared for with the manaakitanga New Zealanders would expect.”
Checks with airlines have revealed that from October 5 – 25 there are 192 passenger flights that are scheduled to arrive in Auckland between 11pm and 5am. Ms O’Brien says airlines do not always know who is transiting as passengers may have a separate ticket with another airline.
“Avsec (Aviation Security), which is responsible for screening transit passengers, is well aware of the arrival times of aircraft in advance, and of any delays, through the flight information system,” she says. “ If an aircraft is due, and may be late, Avsec needs to have people prepared to receive any passengers who are in transit.
“BARNZ is aware that finding enough staff is a challenge for Avsec. Staffing is an issue right throughout the aviation system as we rebuild to meet demand after the COVID closures. But locking people out or herding them into a temporary lounge are not options in our members’ opinion.
“While airlines are sympathetic, if the airport is open it must be able to correctly handle passengers.”
For media enquiries, please contact: Cath O’Brien, Executive Director, BARNZ
M: +64 21 730 557