Long-haul NZ-China flight forced back mid-flight

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 12, 2019

An Air New Zealand plane en route to Shanghai was forced to return to Auckland after several hours in the air on Saturday as paperwork for the flight included reference to Taiwan, Stuff reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

It is understood Flight NZ289, carrying about 270 passengers, was operated by a newer Boeing 787-9 aircraft not yet been entered in a database of planes allowed to land in China. The plane, which has not yet been confirmed, returned to Auckland about five hours after it took off and that it did not have permission from the Chinese authorities to land.

"We do have issues and obviously we have to make it very clear.that we have an even-handed relationship with these two major superpowers, that we are not taking sides".

An Air New Zealand flight was reportedly denied permission to land in China because the airline's paperwork referenced Taiwan as an independent country.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.

A former Trade Minister says China has clearly put New Zealand on notice over the treatment of Huawei.

"Tourism is very important to New Zealand, but so is trade and our worldwide relationship - I think that it's very concerning that Jacinda Ardern is the first elected Prime Minister not to visit China within the first year in office since before Robert Muldoon, that in itself speaks volumes".

As to when she would be visiting Beijing, Ardern failed to give a specific date.

When asked about the status of the Huawei 5G contract, she said that data and security were the most important considerations, emphasizing that "it's not about vendor, it's not about country".

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

China refuses to have diplomatic ties with governments that recognise Taiwan and has been cracking down on airlines that do so. A total of 44 airline companies relented to Chinese pressure and made adjustments to how Taiwan was labeled.

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