A rambling memo sent out by AirServices Australia CEO Greg Russell to his staff this week should be enough to end his career.

AirServices Australia is no longer delivering its product: the continuous safe separation of airliners in controlled air space.

It has been criticised for this by its two major customers, Qantas and Virgin Blue. Tiger Airways this morning complained about the cost burden of flying around uncontrolled air space because it refuses to use those areas on safety grounds.

Departing CASA CEO Bruce Byron has also criticised AirServices Australia, as has ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

AirServices has even undermined its income base by failing to provide its airline customers with the product for which they pay. No control means no fees. And it has serious safety implications.

Russell may well be right about the amazing coincidence between controllers not presenting for duty on their days off or for additional overtime when pay negotiations are underway. But that’s the job of any CEO to anticipate and manage. It has not been managed at AirServices. It has been allowed to fall into a heap.

When overseas flights are approaching an Australian city with legal fuel reserves and are suddenly confronted with no air traffic control for the final stage of the flight to the destination or to the flight-plan-filed alternative airport to which they would divert in the event of fog or adverse winds, they are confronted with conditions their standard operation procedures forbid, and marginal if not inadequate fuel reserves.

This is an intolerably dangerous situation. It cannot be remedied simply by bullying people who are drop dead tired to work yet another additional shift. The rules governing air traffic controller rostering also forbid such a solution.

This needs to be fixed immediately.