GIBRALTAR’S government will ‘withhold payment’ to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after its Air Traffic Control Tower shut down for 48 hours.

The MoD said the problem was caused by a communications fault with Seville airport in Spain that created a safety issue.

It forced two days of flights to be diverted to Malaga, with passengers bussed down to Gibraltar from the international airport.

By Thursday evening, the MoD said technicians had fixed the problem and flights could continue flying to the Rock as normal.

The government said it was ‘disappointed’ about the diverted flights and the inconvenience it had caused travellers.

“The Government will further withhold payment on the Commercial Use agreement in respect of the downtime suffered these past forty eight hours,” it said in a statement late Thursday.

Even though the main communications system is ‘still down’ the government said the MoD was now using ‘an alternative’ one instead.

This ‘alternative’ system has been accepted by the civil and military aviation authorities until the main communications equipment is repaired, the government confirmed.

The incident followed similar problems in September when the air traffic control tower was closed after one of its operators fell ill.

Gibraltar’s government said this was ‘unacceptable’ at the time as it led to another flight being diverted.

The government is keen to strengthen the image of its airport as it seeks to bring in new airlines to the Rock from the UK and elsewhere.

During the September issues it said diverting planes to Malaga ‘will have an adverse impact on Gibraltar’s reputation’.


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