Air New Zealand plane takes off from Auckland, lands in scandal

13 February, 2019, 07:11 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland shortly before midnight yesterday only to return about 10am today. — Reuters pic

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.

In some circumstances it was possible for airlines to find a quick solution to an incorrect flight plan however, because the incident with flight NZ289 occurred over the weekend there was little chance of anyone within China's bureaucracy who would have been able to make an amendment to allow the flight to land, she said. One tweeted: "Midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given the plane permission to..."

The airline said in a statement that "a technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China".

Opponents and media reports questioned if the Air New Zealand flight that was recently refused entry to China was linked to the issue of deteriorating bilateral ties.

Last year, for example, Qantas was pressured into changing the way it described Taiwan from a "country" to a territory' on its website. The source told the news site that the Chinese were "very explicit" about what they wanted the wording to be, but it apparently had yet to be addressed by the time the plane was in the air.

China has postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand just days before its launch while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's visit to Beijing has been further delayed as concerns mount that China's growing influence in the Pacific is straining ties.

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Opposition leader Simon Bridges suggested the returned flight was indicative of increasingly tense relations between China and New Zealand.

"In the past, New Zealand has enjoyed a consensus approach to foreign policy, a unified front".

Exactly how much the difficulties in the relationship with China can be blamed on the Government is hard to know.

Ardern is left trotting out the line that this is a scheduling issue, and the only thing keeping her from an official visit is scheduling clashes.

Relations between the two countries have become increasingly strained in recent months, following a recommendation from New Zealand's spy agency that the roll-out of 5G by Huawei posed "significant national security risks".

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.

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