No arrival holdings?


I am new to the network and I am absolutely amazed so far. I was on the network today on a very busy single runway airport. I noticed the controller couldn’t get the aircraft in the air due to continuous inbound approaches. Are arrival holds not used in VATSIM? It looks like there is no coordination between approach/tower, correct?

Arrival holdings are definitely used and coordination between the different ATS units is very common. If you take a look, this was/is also the case in Birmingham today with various aircraft holding over the Northampton area (looks like a hold over VELAG or something in that area). But that won’t mean that there are no delays on the ground (which can happen quite easily with big events at small airports like the Midsummer Madness at Birmingham today).

You need to keep in mind that most controllers on the network have no real world ATC training. Add to that someone who has only been controlling for a limited amount of time, perhaps - you will easily have a situation where gaps that could have been used remain unused because the controller isn’t sure if the gap is large enough and decides to play it safe rather than get a loss of separation - or the gaps themselves aren’t big enough if the approach controller doesn’t have a lot of experience on approach positions. It could also be that a temporary departure stop has been coordinated to allow the approach unit to clear up their airspace a bit.
Something else that happens regularly are pilots not properly complying with instructions, which is especially bad in such busy situations like the one you found yourself in at Birmingham today. A pilot not correctly flying their assigned speed on final, for example, can result in the gap for departure being too small, while the increased gap after this arrival isn’t big enough to get two aircraft airborne.
You should also keep in mind that - unlike IRL - all controllers work their positions alone, they don’t have a planner/coordinator who can work out long-term plans, which can make coordination rather difficult when their frequency is busy.