Air NZ flight turned away over Taiwan issue

Air NZ flight turned away over Taiwan issue

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in comments aired on a television channel, dismissed concerns the returned flight was a sign of strains between the two countries, adding the temporary plane wasn't registered.

An Air New Zealand plane on its way to Shanghai was forced to return to Auckland after several hours in the air Saturday because paperwork for the flight included a reference to Taiwan, Stuff reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The airline apologized for disrupting the travel plans of customers and said it knew they would be "deeply disappointed and frustrated by the situation".

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, was quick to clarify that the administrative issue was separate to China-New Zealand relations.

Under the previous conservative government, New Zealand had fostered much closer ties with China.

Full disclosure: I was asking questions of Air NZ on Sunday afternoon, suspecting it may be the start of a diplomatic incident. "As you were advised onboard, the aircraft operating your flight did not have regulatory approval to land in China and was required to return to Auckland", the message from the airline said.




Earlier on Sunday, Eric Hundman, an assistant professor at New York University Shanghai, who was on the diverted flight, shared the apology message he received from the airline, confirming Ardern's assertion.

Visitors view terracotta warriors during the preview of the exhibition "Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality" at the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 13, 2018.

This was a plane flying in the middle of the night, on weekend, to a country which only a few years ago blocked all meat imports from New Zealand for more than a week because the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had been rebranded the Ministry for Primary Industries, meaning export paperwork changed slightly. "Them [the opposition National party] spreading misinformation around this flight I see as irresponsible and a real departure on what we've experienced on foreign policy before", Ardern told TVNZ.

New Zealand yesterday said Beijing had postponed an event to launch the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 in Wellington next week.

She said yesterday it was likely that although the airline would have filed for an aircraft to land, a different aircraft was suddenly listed to land on the other side - something Chinese authorities would not have accepted. "That was a effect", she said.

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