Admin error caused China flight U-turn - 2/10/2019 11:43:18 PM

Blanche Robertson
February 13, 2019

In April 2018 the Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) of China ordered a number of global airlines to change how Taiwan was described on their websites and promotional material.

New Zealand said on Tuesday that an event to launch the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism 2019 in Wellington next week was postponed by the Chinese and Ardern told reporters that dates for her trip to China, planned for the end of 2018, has still not been finalised.

Air New Zealand has not yet responded to a request for comment. In a statement it said that the Boeing 787-9 was new to the airline's fleet and did not have the correct paperwork.

Air NZ flight 289, which was bound for Shanghai, was forced to turn back to Auckland after several hours in the air because Chinese authorities deemed that its application to land in China contained wording that indicated Taiwan is an independent country, according to sources cited by Stuff.

Air New Zealand said that because of a technicality it did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China.

Ms Ardern dismissed concerns that the returned flight was a sign of strained ties between the two countries, saying the plane was not registered.

Passengers said the captain informed them mid-flight the Air New Zealand plane was not allowed to land in China and would have to go back.

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Last year, for example, Qantas was pressured into changing the way it described Taiwan from a "country" to a territory' on its website.

However the issue which caused the Air New Zealand flight to return to Auckland was likely to have happened irrespective of the current questions, due to China's sensitivity.

Air New Zealand apologized for the inconvenience experienced by its customers and was "deeply disappointed and frustrated by the situation", reported AP.

Opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges blamed Ms Ardern and her deputy Winston Peters for "steadily deteriorating relations" with China, and said ties were at the worst point ever.

"Our relationship with China is a complex relationship, it sometimes will have its challenges, but they remain an incredibly important economic and people-to-people partner".

She said yesterday it was likely that although the airline would have filed for an aircraft to land, a different aircraft was suddenly listed to land on the other side - something Chinese authorities would not have accepted.

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