Air NZ passengers on diverted flight to China touch down in Shanghai

Air NZ passengers on diverted flight to China touch down in Shanghai

Air New Zealand hasn't responded to questions today but said yesterday the issue was specific to the aircraft used on yesterday's flight.

The issue reportedly involved documentation from New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority, which had been included with Air New Zealand's application to enable the plane to make a landing in China.

The reason behind the turn around is the fact, that the Dreamliner "did not have regulatory approval to land in China and was required to return to Auckland", Air New Zealand has reportedly explained to passengers.

Last year, New Zealand issued a defence policy statement in which it said China's rising influence in the South Pacific could undermine regional stability, and alluded to tension in the disputed South China Sea, sparking complaint from China.

Under the previous conservative government, New Zealand had fostered much closer ties with China.

When asked to comment on the issue by the news agency, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denied that it was an indication of strained relations between China and her country, and was instead due to administrative issues. One tweeted: "Midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given the plane permission to..." "We need to know what has happened here".

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Dismissing such conjectures as "irresponsible", Ardern accused the opposition of spreading "misinformation". That's in New Zealand's best interest.

Visitors view terracotta warriors during the preview of the exhibition "Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality" at the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand, on December 13, 2018.

"Our relationship with China is a complex relationship and sometimes it will have its challenges", Ardern told TVNZ in an interview.

She said it was most likely the aircraft registration filed with the Chinese authorities was different from the registration of the aircraft that was used on the flight. "But they (China) remain an incredibly important economic and people-to-people partner", she stressed, citing the ongoing exhibition of China's famed Terracotta Warriors at the National Museum of New Zealand as a sign of strong ties.

A major joint tourism event to be unveiled in Wellington between the two countries has also been postponed, with reports that China refused to send any government ministers to attend.

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