"There has been an over-reliance on overtime."
Airservices Australia CEO Greg Russell

Source: The Age

Australia needs air traffic controllers. Air traffic controllers have been working overtime because of a national staff shortage of more than 20 people, a Senate committee heard on Wednesday.

Airservices Australia chief executive Greg Russell said airports are collectively short of 21 air traffic controllers.

"We are 21 down on a requirement of 897 air traffic controllers," Mr Russell told the transport committee.

"There has been an over-reliance on overtime."

Mr Russell said Airservices, responsible for 10 per cent of the globe's air space, was actively looking for new staff.

"We have a vigorous recruiting campaign under way that is beginning to bear fruit," Mr Russell said.

The Launceston traffic control tower has been under particular media attention and Mr Russell said one staff member who had been on long-term sick leave was due to return next month.

He said Airservices was looking at the number of hours the Launceston tower operated.