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Airservices CEO to step down in June as contract comes to an end

written by Jake Nelson | May 1, 2024

Airservices Australia CEO Jason Harfield addresses the 2017 RAAA National Conference. (Image: Seth Jaworski)

Airservices Australia CEO Jason Harfield will step down in June after eight years in the role.

Harfield, who has been with Airservices for 35 years, has reached the end of his contract and will leave on 8 June, with chief strategy and customer experience officer Peter Curran to serve as interim CEO while the air traffic control body undertakes a global search for his replacement.

In an email to staff, Airservices chairman John Weber said Harfield “will be departing with our thanks and best wishes to take a well-earned rest”.

“The Board and I are grateful for Jason’s leadership, deep knowledge of, and passion for the organisation and the role Airservices plays in the industry,” he said.

“In particular, his navigating of the organisation through the pandemic that allowed Airservices to continue to operate pretty much as normal with continuity of services to industry while providing certainty for staff in uncertain times.


“Peter Curran has been appointed as the Acting Chief Executive and will begin shadowing Jason to enable for a smooth transition.”

Transport Minister Catherine King also thanked Harfield for his work during his tenure as CEO.

“In his time as CEO, Jason has supported the continued high standard of safe, efficient and effective delivery of air traffic and aviation rescue firefighting services in Australia,” Minister King said.

“He oversaw Airservices’ operations throughout the pandemic, and has been actively involved in the OneSKY program which will ensure the future civil and military air traffic management needs are met.

“In a career spanning more than 30 years, Mr Harfield has served in a range of important roles in the industry including serving as Australia’s Head Air Traffic Controller. He has been a core member of the Airservices Executive leadership team for nearly two decades.”

Harfield replaced his predecessor Margaret Staib in 2016, having served as acting CEO since her departure the previous year. Among his first acts as full CEO was to initiate an overhaul of the organisation, including cutting staff and looking to new technologies.

Under his tenure, Airservices has moved forward on its new OneSKY/CMATS air traffic management system, with testing beginning earlier this year on the technology that will unify civilian and military air traffic control across Australian airspace.

Airservices is also looking to embrace digital aerodrome services, which replace traditional physical towers with camera and sensor masts that feed information to remote facilities; the first purpose-built digital aerodrome will open at Western Sydney Airport in 2026.

Harfield’s term has not been without controversies, with Airservices last year dogged by accusations of understaffing due in part to a retirement incentive program implemented during the pandemic.

Harfield last year told reporters there is no “magic number” for how many air traffic control staff are needed to cover Australia, and that ATC staffing issues have less to do with raw numbers than where those numbers fall.

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