Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back over Taiwan reference

Lamar Ellis
February 12, 2019

An Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai had to turn back to Auckland today after learning it had no authority to land in China.

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

The source indicated that the airline may not have taken the political stance or "cast a political lens" that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAA) was wanting to see regarding Taiwan's status in the documentation.

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

"Air New Zealand has been very open about the fact that there is a requirement from China's end for planes going into China to be registered".

China has a history of demanding global airlines not refer to Taiwan's independence or nationhood on its websites or promotional material, and in the past has urged Qantas, Air Canada and others to change how it refers to the island.

"Aviation is a highly regulated market, and China is a highly regulated market and everyone has to do everything by the letter of the law", he said.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern smiles as she attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2019.

"We need to know what has happened here".

Exactly how much the difficulties in the relationship with China can be blamed on the Government is hard to know.

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Prime minister Jacinda Ardern responded saying "it was wrong" to view the incident as politically motivated.

"There are challenges there though, our job is to make sure that we always - in all our relationships - represent New Zealand's best interests, and we do that".

"Officials are working with the Chinese Embassy to get a new date confirmed for this event", a spokesman for Davis said.

"It has always been a complex relationship, one that is particularly strong economically, our people-to-people exchanges increasing, particularly through tourism".

Ardern's plans to visit Beijing past year were also put on hold due to scheduling problems, with her office saying in late November it was "difficult to find a time that suits everyone".

Ardern said she would not characterise the relationship as having deteriorated, arguing the Government had been "incredibly consistent" in how it approached diplomacy with China and other countries.

Relations between the two countries have become increasingly strained in recent months, following a recommendation from New Zealand's spy agency that the roll-out of 5G by Huawei posed "significant national security risks".

Mr McClay said the Tourism Minister should be on the next plane to China to go and sort it out.

"This airplane failed to obtain a landing permit with its destination and decided on its own accord to return en route", she said.

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