Air NZ plane lands in Shanghai after being rejected over weekend

Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland shortly before midnight yesterday only to return about 10am today. — Reuters pic

Air New Zealand announced on February 22 a year ago that it would begin offering direct flights between Auckland and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport beginning on November 1.

The issue reportedly involved documentation from New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority, which had been included with Air New Zealand's application to enable the plane to make a landing in China.

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

"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 issue has created a headache for the New Zealand government, with increasing questions about the true state of relations between New Zealand and China, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unable to say when she will visit Beijing.

China refuses to have diplomatic ties with governments that recognise Taiwan and has been cracking down on airlines that do so.




Air New Zealand did not respond to questions about a Taiwan link but said "as is required, the application includes a list of destinations the airline operates to, including Taipei". DPA added that that the aircraft returned to Auckland about five hours after taking off and did not have permission from the Chinese authorities to land.

"I think it is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the relationship", Ardern told a weekly news conference.

Scheduling clashes happen - we all have to postpone sometimes.

Visitors view terracotta warriors during the preview of the exhibition "Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality" at the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 13, 2018. "Them [the opposition National party] spreading misinformation around this flight I see as irresponsible and a real departure on what we've experienced on foreign policy before", Ardern told TVNZ. "Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this NZ Govt & China?"

Ardern was scheduled to visit China early this year but the invitation has been put on hold.

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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