An Air New Zealand flight inbound to Shanghai was forced to turn around halfway over Indonesia after their pilot discovered their aircraft was not permitted to land in China.
Whilst aircraft are turned around all the time due to technical issues, or rerouted due to problems at the destination airport (such as a storm), it is the first time an international flight has been denied access due to not having the right paperwork.
I’ve just experienced a new level of China Bad: midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around. A permitting issue, supposedly. pic.twitter.com/7dJEYjp1bt
— Eric Hundman | 何諳銳 (@ehundman) February 9, 2019
Flight NZ289 was approx half way to China from Auckland when the pilot announced that the plane there were on was not certified to land or operate in Chinese airspace. The flight was an overnight leaving New Zealand just before midnight on Saturday night, and thus would have been a disappointing morning for those onboard.
“A technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China,” – Statment from the airline.
To make up for it, the airline has booked all passengers on another flight leaving Sunday night local time (after a night in a hotel), this time with double (and triple) checked paperwork.
“Customers will be accommodated for the day at hotels or at the airport’s Strata Lounge before they depart for Shanghai on a special service at 11pm this evening. 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 New Zealand
It is especially embarrasing as it happened to New Zealand, a flag carrying airline that is supposed to ensure a seamless and logstic nightmare free experience for their passengers.
What caused the problem?
Upon investigation, it appears that the plane was a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, and potentially, the airline had not yet registered the aircraft in China. The process generally takes up to several weeks and requires the airline to fill out plenty of paperwork for every aircraft entering Chinese airspace.
It’s not a common sort of mistake, but I’m not entirely surprised. My previous employer operated 25 aircraft and had a staff of 16 people dedicated solely to these types of permitting tasks. It’s a big and often overwhelming job.
— Andrew Poure (@apoure25) February 9, 2019
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.