Oops: Ardern admits admin error caused China flight U-turn

Oops: Ardern admits admin error caused China flight U-turn

February 11, 2019

Wellington:  New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a flight from New Zealand to China was turned back for administrative reasons and the incident has no bearing on the relationship between the two nations.

Ardern said the issue was that all aircraft flying into China needed to be registered, and the Air New Zealand plane wasn't.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident had nothing to do with relations between her country and China.Credit:AP

Air New Zealand said in a statement that Flight NZ289 from Auckland to Shanghai was over four hours into its journey on Sunday when it returned to Auckland after it was discovered a "technicality" meant the plane wasn't registered in China.

The airline apologised for disrupting the travel plans of customers and said it knew they would be "deeply disappointed and frustrated by the situation". The airline said all customers had since arrived in Shanghai.

There had been speculation that the incident was triggered by sensitivities about the treatment of the Chinese telco Huawei.

New Zealand political journalist Richard Harman speculated on his website Politik that the rejection of flight NZ289 was China reacting to New Zealand's decision to ban Chinese telco Huawei from supplying 5G to New Zealand telco Spark.

However, aviation commentator Irene King said the flight was most likely forced to turn back because there had been a "cock-up" with the paperwork at Air New Zealand's end.

She said it was most likely the aircraft registration filed with the Chinese authorities was different from the registration of the aircraft that was used on the flight.

AP, Stuff

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