Registration mistake turned back New Zealand flight to China:The Asahi Shimbun

13 February, 2019, 07:12 | Author: Carlos George
  • Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland shortly before midnight yesterday only to return about 10am today. — Reuters pic

Passengers said the captain informed them mid-flight the Air New Zealand plane was not allowed to land in China and would have to go back.

Opponents and local media reports questioned if an Air New Zealand flight which was recently refused entry to China may be a part of the deteriorating relationship, although the airline, the government and Chinese authorities have all said it was due to some administrative issue.

"We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans", it said.

"This issue relates to a particular aircraft which is not yet certified to operate to China but was unfortunately assigned to operate our Shanghai flight on Saturday night", the spokesperson said.

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.

Full disclosure: I was asking questions of Air NZ on Sunday afternoon, suspecting it may be the start of a diplomatic incident.

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.

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Opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges blamed Ms Ardern and her deputy Winston Peters for "steadily deteriorating relations" with China, and said ties were at the worst point ever. That's in New Zealand's best interest.

An opening ceremony event was to be held at Te Papa on February 20, coinciding with the hosting of 2,300-year-old Chinese artefacts, the Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality exhibition. "That was a outcome", she said.

Acknowledging that there are geopolitical tensions rupturing between China & NZ isn't being disloyal to Jacinda, it's the inevitability of forces well beyond our shores.

"Our relationship with China is a complex relationship, it sometimes will have its challenges, but they remain an incredibly important economic and people-to-people partner".

"I have been issued with an invitation to visit China, that has not changed".

Back in October, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis was so excited by the coming China-New Zealand year of tourism that he posted an official statement on the Beehive website.

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