Passengers at Gisborne Airport were delayed 30 minutes for their flight to Auckland this morning - because staff were locked out of the control tower.

TV producer Bailey Mackey tweeted about the "epic fail" shortly after 6am as he waited to board his Air New Zealand flight.

"Can't leave Gizzy cause the tower guy's swipe card isn't working."

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.

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"We apologise to the passengers of NZ8160 for the late running of their flight this morning," she said.