Chinese authorities forced an Air New Zealand flight to turn back to Auckland five hours into the flight, citing a permitting issue. But don’t blame China for this one.
Air New Zealand Flight 289 was halfway to Shanghai on Saturday when the captain made an ominous announcement:
Chinese authorities have not given us permission to land, so we need to turn around for Auckland.
Five hours into the flight? The captain added there was a permitting issue.
Every aircraft that enters Chinese airspace must be registered. This registration process can takes weeks to months so airlines tend to get the paperwork started well before the aircraft is even delivered. The flight was operated by ZK-NZQ, which was delivered on September 21, 2018 to Air New Zealand. It appears this particular aircraft had not yet been registered with Chinese authorities.
Air New Zealand later issued the following statement:
Flight NZ289 Auckland to Shanghai returned to Auckland around four and a half to five hours into its journey after it was discovered a technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China.
We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans.
Thus far, Air New Zealand has only provided passengers with a hotel room and NZ$30 meal voucher. New Zealand law may force Air New Zealand to compensate up to 10X the flight cost for this self-inflicted delay.
Now could Chinese authorities have let the aircraft through? Of course. But China didn’t pull a new rule out of the hat. Here, it appears someone at Air New Zealand did not do their job. Talk about a 10-hour flight to nowhere…
image: Air New Zealand