Long-haul New Zealand-China flight forced back mid-flight

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

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

Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland shortly before midnight on Saturday only to return about 10 am on Sunday (2100 GMT Saturday).

But on Tuesday it was reported that China was angry about a reference to Taiwan in some paperwork.

The incident marks yet another arbitrary move by Beijing to impose its ideology upon foreign companies, following the CAA order on April 24 of past year that forced airlines to refer to Taiwan as part of China on their websites, which the U.S. White House called "Orwellian nonsense".

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

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.

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.

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Dozens of passengers fumed on social media about the "serious administrative cock-up".

Air New Zealand apologized to passengers and said a special service would fly them to Shanghai at 11 pm on Sunday.

The problem related to documentation from New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority which was included as part of Air New Zealand's application to allow the particular plane to land in China.

"[China] has obviously made it very clear that they don't expect to see New Zealand being deemed as a surrogate for American politics at any level", he said.

An Air New Zealand flight bound for Shanghai was turned back because of an "administrative issue" and the incident holds no political implications for ties with China, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. A permitting issue, supposedly, ' the passenger commented.

In a statement late on Sunday, China's civil aviation regulator quoted the airline as having said the issue was due to "temporary improper allocation of the aircraft".

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