Letter To The Editor

Response to The Australian

13 Jul 2015

Dear Mr Mathieson,

Two recent articles in The Australian, ‘Radical overhaul to deliver safer skies’ (11 July 2015) and ‘Pilots back reforms for air space overhaul’ (13 July 2015) continue to make false and misleading claims about air traffic services in Australia and about Airservices Australia.

It is disingenuous to assert that Airservices is ‘defying moves by CASA’ in relation to the provision of air traffic information services at Ballina Airport and misrepresents the information that we have provided to your journalist.

Neither the airport operator, nor the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), are seeking to introduce a Unicom radio service at Ballina.

As we advised The Australian, Airservices is working with the operator of Ballina Airport to develop the most appropriate and cost effective options for providing radio information services.

Ballina Airport has approached Airservices to discuss access to our Fire Control Centre at the airport for the airport to provide a Certified Air/Ground Radio Service (CA/GRS) which would provide a better level of information services than a Unicom. This type of arrangement between the aerodrome operator and Airservices is not new and is already being successfully used at Ayers Rock where a CA/GRS is currently in place.

Ballina is one of the very few locations in Australia where, in line with CASA regulations and recommendations, a new rescue and fire fighting service has been introduced and there is currently no air traffic control service. CASA is currently reviewing the airspace classification at Ballina to determine whether an air traffic service is required and Airservices will support the outcome of that review when it is finalised.

Your article ‘Radical overhaul to deliver safer skies’ (11 July 2015) makes assertions about the level of air traffic services provided in Australia that are irresponsible and incorrect. Contrary to your reporting, all passenger flights in Australia are supported by continuous air traffic services throughout their entire flight, in all types of airspace and at all locations.

In addition, a comprehensive suite of weather information services is available to all pilots both before and during any flight in Australia through services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology in conjunction with Airservices. This includes automated weather services available during flight as well as services provided by air traffic controllers over the radio.

I note that this is the fifth time that Airservices has had to write to The Australian in four weeks about eight inaccurate and misleading articles that The Australian has acknowledged form part of a “sustained campaign.” We again ask you to refrain from making these inaccurate and misleading claims, and publish corrections at the earliest opportunity.

This selective reporting also fails to provide balance and objectivity, which appears to contravene News Limited’s own Code of Conduct and the Journalists Code of Ethics. A fair and reasonable reader who considers the questions from your journalist and the answers we provided (see the weekend’s answers attached), coupled with the stories published, is likely to be disappointed as this is not what people would expect of The Australian.

Safety is, and will always be, Airservices number one priority. Australia’s aviation safety record is among the best in the world and we welcome a debate about the future of airspace management in Australia that is responsible, based on facts and that makes a positive contribution to the ongoing improvement of aviation safety and efficiency.

Yours sincerely


Mairi Barton
Executive General Manager
Corporate and Industry Affairs
13 July 2015