Air NZ flight turned away over Taiwan issue

Leroy Wright
February 12, 2019

An worldwide flight from Auckland to Shanghai has turned around mid-air and returned to New Zealand, sparking concerns over increasingly frosty relations between the two countries and setting off a political war of words.

'A technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China'.

Air NZ flight 289, which was bound for Shanghai, was forced to turn back to Auckland after several hours in the air because Chinese authorities deemed that its application to land in China contained wording that indicated Taiwan is an independent country, according to sources cited by Stuff.

"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".

The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on Aug 24 past year, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.

"Yesterday Air New Zealand was advised that the original application to have this aircraft registered to operate to China had expired and a fresh application was submitted".

"Air New Zealand has been very open about the fact that there is a requirement from China's end for planes going into China to be registered".

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Dismissing such conjectures as "irresponsible", Ardern accused the opposition of spreading "misinformation".

"Our relationship with China is a complex relationship and sometimes it will have its challenges", Ardern told TVNZ in an interview.

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

She said the incident had no bearing on the relationship between the two nations and she wouldn't be seeking reassurance on that point from Chinese officials.

The passenger told the Samoa Observer that the elderly woman had cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) administered to her, but it appears she did not survive the emergency procedure. "Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this NZ Govt & China?"

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has denied New Zealand's relationship with China has deteriorated under her government, following the latest bilateral "scheduling" difficulty.

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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