NZ flight turns back mid-air after discovering it lacks permission to land in China
13 February, 2019, 07:13
An aircraft of Air New Zealand was forced to return to Auckland halfway to Shanghai.
The problem related to documentation from New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority which was included as part of Air New Zealand's application to allow the aircraft to land in China, the report said.
"I've just experienced a new level of China Bad: midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around".
"Air NZ wishes to sincerely apologise for the return and subsequent retiming of your flight, NZ289".
The unorthodox incident has prompted speculation the issue with the plane's paperwork was due to an error in the airline referring to the city of Taipei as the capital of Taiwan rather than a city in China.
The flight that touched down in Shanghai on Monday was a Boeing 787-9 with the registration ZK-NZH.
Air New Zealand blamed "a technicality" over landing permissions.
The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be launched with great fanfare at Wellington's Te Papa museum next week, but that has been postponed by China.
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The issue has created a headache for the New Zealand government, with increasing questions about the true state of relations between New Zealand and China, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unable to say when she will visit Beijing.
Last year, for example, Qantas was pressured into changing the way it described Taiwan from a "country" to a territory' on its website.
"We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans", Air NZ said, confirming that "these customers have now since arrived in Shanghai".
In February 2018, the Chinese government had instructed airlines to review their website references, and remove any material that identified Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent regions - a demand that was reiterated to 44 global carriers in a letter.
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