Police Minister Stuart Nash has hit out after his Napier flight was delayed for the second time in as many weeks due to airport staff lateness.

The Napier MP took to Twitter this morning to air his frustrations after he said his plane from Napier to Wellington was delayed due to an air traffic controller turning up late for work.

"Air NZ Plane late leaving Napier by 20 minutes yet again; but for the 2nd Monday in a row it's because air traffic controller turned up late for work," he Tweeted.

"Yet again a plane full of punters delayed because some clown slept in! Unbelievable & unacceptable."


It didn't take long for the airline to respond to Nash's complaint and apologise for the delay.

"Kia ora Stuart, our apologies for the delay this morning. Our team is following this up with the local airport management and do apologise for the impact this has had on your morning," they replied.

The control tower is not operated by Hawke's Bay Airport, but by Airways.

An Airways NZ spokeswoman said, "We apologise to customers who were delayed this morning at Napier due to an unexpected staff shortage.

"Unfortunately this came after a staff member experienced a car break down on their way to work last week," she said.

"We regret that these two issues, while unrelated, have caused inconvenience to passengers at Napier."

Nash's criticism follows an incident in June when passengers at Gisborne Airport were delayed 30 minutes for their flight to Auckland - because staff were locked out of the control tower.

A spokeswoman for Airways New Zealand, which provides New Zealand's air traffic control, said the security system in the tower door malfunctioned, which took about half an hour to resolve.