An Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Shanghai was unexpected forced to turn back three hours into its 11-hour journey on Saturday.
Airline authorities said it was because the particular aircraft wasn’t certified to enter China.
But sources told Stuff news website that it was because the airline had referred to Taiwan as an independent country from China in its paperwork for the aircraft.
Taiwan has for decades operated as its own country, but Beijing insists that Taiwan belongs to it.
A flight from New Zealand to China was unexpectedly forced to turn back three hours into its journey on Saturday, and it could be because the airline had enraged China by referring to Taiwan as an independent country.
Air New Zealand flight NZ289, which was supposed to fly from Auckland to Shanghai, made the U-turn about three hours into the flight, according to flight tracking site FlightRadar24. The flight is usually about 11 hours long.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was located just off New Caledonia island in the South Pacific when it turned back to Auckland Airport.
The reasons for the U-turn remain unclear. While Air New Zealand said it was because the aircraft used on Saturday was “not yet certified to operate to China,” New Zealand news site Stuff reported that it was because the airline had angered Beijing by listing the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of China.
A spokesman for the airline told The Guardian: “This issue relates to a particular aircraft which is not yet certified to operate to China but was unfortunately assigned to operate our Shanghai flight on Saturday night.
“Yesterday Air New Zealand was advised that the original application to have this aircraft registered to operate to China had expired and a fresh application was submitted,” they added.
Citing unnamed sources, on Tuesday Stuff reported that the paperwork in question had made a reference to Taiwan, which China saw as an acknowledgement of Taiwan’s status as an individual country. Taiwan has for decades operated as its own country, but Beijing insists that Taiwan belongs to it.
“The Chinese were very explicit” about its problem with the aircraft’s paperwork, and it was not resolved before the Saturday flight, Stuff cited its sources as saying.
Business Insider has contacted Air New Zealand for comment on the Saturday flight and its reference to Taiwan.
Air New Zealand runs at least one NZ289 flight every day. No other NZ289 flights have been affected, according to FlightRadar24.
A ‘very unusual’ situation
John Nicholson, CEO of Aviation New Zealand, told The Guardian that the incident was “very unusual.”
“It gets into the political situation and the way the different governments recognize or don’t recognize states, and I would think Air New Zealand would be guided very much by what the New Zealand government position is,” he said, adding that people should “therefore look at it in context of the New Zealand government’s relationship with China.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hit back at insinuations that the flight’s U-turn was a reflection of Wellington and Beijing’s diplomatic …read more
Source:: Business Insider