China blocks flight from NZ

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An Air New Zealand plane takes off from Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney, Australia, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back several hours into its journey yesterday after discovering it did not have permission to land in China, the airline said.

Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland shortly before midnight on Saturday only to return about 10am on Sunday. It turned around several hours into the flight.

“A technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China,” the airline said.

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China’s foreign ministry did not make any immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. Calls to the civil aviation administration were not answered.

“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 said.

Disgruntled passengers voiced their disapproval on social media. One posted a picture on Twitter of the onboard flight map showing the aircraft turning around over Papua New Guinea.

The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on Aug. 24 last year, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.

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