Rotorua Airport's air traffic control tower will close in September as part of a cost-cutting drive by Airways.
Although some other centres could be reprieved, the state-owned enterprise has sent the council-owned airport a ''90-day termination'' notice saying it would withdraw its service on September 17.
Rotorua Airport's chief executive Mark Gibb said he appreciated the need for Airways to make savings as its revenue has plunged, but more time was needed to do an independent aeronautical study on the impact of the closure.
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Singapore Airlines can now bring Kiwis home, Emirates prepares for NZ flights
• Premium - Why Singapore Airlines is back with passenger flights as airlines slowly spool up
• Covid 19 coronavirus: Singapore Airlines crew 'kept like prisoners' during NZ layover
• American Airlines passenger booted off two flights for refusing to wear mask
He was worried about safety at the airport, which is near lake-based tourism operations and the hospital where rescue helicopters land.
The Civil Aviation Authority has begun a review of the airspace under the control of Rotorua Airport, including the main airport, lakefront and hospital aerodromes.
''It's like switching off the traffic lights at an intersection - this is simply about money,'' Gibb said.
In uncontrolled airspace separation rules would be put in place that could result in a rescue chopper being delayed for a passenger plane to land.
The moves started in the depths of level four lockdown in April when Airways said it would withdraw services from seven airports where demand had plunged.
Airways reiterated in May that it would withdraw the air traffic control services from its towers at Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Rotorua and Invercargill airports. The company will also cease providing airfield flight information services at Kapiti Coast Airport and Milford Sound Piopiotahi Aerodrome.
However, it appears three airports - excluding Rotorua - are under further review.
Airways said yesterday it had established a working group to ''collaborate'' with Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and New Plymouth Airports on a plan for the future of air traffic services in their regions.
In its termination notice to Rotorua Airport, Airways said it had made commercial offers to enable its service to continue and said ''we consider 90 days reasonable notice given the unsustainable nature of the current commercial model'.'
Gibb said the SOE had wanted $250,000 to keep the service running for six months, which he said was part of a pattern of trying to shift the cost to councils and ratepayers.
He said traffic at Rotorua had bounced back more strongly and quickly than expected and in July it would be about 66 per cent what it was this time last year.
''Rotorua Airport remains concerned that the speed of Airways proposed transition will detrimentally impact the safety of the travelling public.''
Airspace around Rotorua was ''inherently complex'' and 12 months was needed to complete an aeronautical assessment, including time for CAA to review the recommendations.
Airways' chief executive Graeme Sumner said there was an opportunity to develop new ways of operating that are safe and more efficient.
Aeronautical studies over the coming months will clarify the air traffic service requirements of each of the three airports in the working group before any new services can be planned and rolled out.
''These independent studies will take into account the unique aspects of each airspace. The Civil Aviation Authority will make the final decision on what type of service is needed for each airport,'' said Sumner.