TODAY |

Auckland Airport apologises after report into runway closures that caused flight gridlock

Auckland Airport's chief executive Adrian Littlewood has apologised after the runway was forced to close twice due to maintenance issues.

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Urgent warnings have been sent to pilots globally about the safety of the runway. Source: 1 NEWS

Around 2000 passengers were disrupted due to the closures after debris was found on the runway during two separate incidents over two weeks.

The International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations issued a warning earlier this month about the "deteriorating" condition of the runway.

"With the increasing occurrences of damage to the runway, there has been an increased risk of foreign object debris damage - some pieces of broken concrete have been reported up to 30cm by 30cm and 12cm thick," it had said.

It prompted Auckland Airport to undertake an urgent review into the safety of its runway and its maintence programme, which was released today.

The review found several ways the airport could have increased its response times, which it's now acted upon, Mr Littlewood said in a statement today.

He says all airports have to close the runway occasionally outside of scheduled maintenance closures, but admitted those are "short duration [with] usually very little impact on flights".

"The two recent closures were longer and management takes full responsibility for the delays, and we apologise to the people who had their travel disrupted by these events," he says.

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The Infrastructure Minister shared his views on the airport’s runway closing twice within two weeks for maintenance. Source: 1 NEWS

Experts say Auckland's unusually hot and dry summer contributed to the faults in the runway pavement, according to the review.

The runway was closed for 43 minutes during the January 24 incident, and 68 minutes during the February 6 incident.

It should have only taken 20 minutes to carry out the maintenance works, the review found.

Around $720 million is set to be spent over the next four years as Auckland Airport upgrades, maintains and expands the airfield.