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February 11, 2019

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Air NZ flight to Shanghai turned back after administrative blunder

A near full Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Shanghai had to turn back midway yesterday morning after the aircraft was found to be lacking the required permission to land in China’s mainland.

Due to the airline’s “improper temporary deployment of its aircraft,” the Boeing 787-9, operating as Flight NZ289, turned back about 5 hours after taking off from Auckland airport around midnight on Saturday local time, the airline said in a statement yesterday.

The flight was scheduled to land at Pudong International Airport at 7:05am.

With about 300 seats, the plane was packed due to the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, which ended yesterday.

The carrier deployed another Boeing 787-9 to take the stranded passengers to Shanghai.

The new flight took off around 11:30pm local time and was due to land at Pudong airport before 6am today.

“We are very sorry for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans, particularly during Chinese New Year, as a result of the turnaround of NZ289 from Auckland to Shanghai,” said the airline statement.

It said the aircraft returned to base after it was discovered that the particular aircraft operating the service did not have a permit to land in China.

As an apology gesture, all passengers were given vouchers for food and drinks as well as NZ$200 (US$135) each to spend on shopping at the airport, the carrier announced. It also assigned staff, including some who speak Mandarin, to assist passengers at the airport.

Most of the passengers spent the day at hotels with a small number remaining at the airport, according to the airline.

The B787-9, a slightly larger version of the Dreamliner, with the registration ZK-NZQ, has been flying with the airline for five months, but has never landed in the Chinese mainland, according to its flight records.

According to China’s civil aviation regulations, foreign carriers are required to submit details of the type, nationality and registration mark of any aircraft scheduled to land in the mainland to the Civil Aviation Administration of China before the flight commences.

“Midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informed us that Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around,” Eric Hundman, an assistant professor at New York University Shanghai who was returning to Shanghai on NZ289, said in a tweet.

A CAAC official told Shanghai Daily that they had no immediate plans to release a statement about the incident.


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