Source: Crikey ( | 12 March 2008

Due to dire Air Traffic Controller shortages, swaths of high-level Australian and Tasman airspace have been effectively "switched off". Last week while preparing for a flight out of Brisbane, I was offered delay and alternative routing to avoid small sectors of TIBA air, but on a subsequent flight Sunday between Queensland and Victoria I was told a new sector of TIBA air "roughly the size of Victoria" lay ahead. All flights between Queensland and Melbourne/Avalon; Sydney or Canberra to Perth or Adelaide and Melbourne/Avalon to Adelaide/Perth above 24,000 feet were told they would be leaving controlled air and would have to arrange their own separation without even traffic information provided.

Qantas, Virgin Blue and Jetstar jets, along with the occasional bewildered foreign operator were required to broadcast their positions and tracks, while attempting to monitor each others. This is a considerable deterioration in safety standards due to an understaffed state owned enterprise.

Photo: Sam Chui