An Air New Zealand flight was reportedly denied permission to land in China because the airline’s paperwork referenced Taiwan as an independent country.
Flight NZ289 left Auckland shortly before midnight on Saturday only to land at the same airport about 10am on Sunday, leaving 270 passengers furious.
The airline said on Monday that China denied the plane landing permission due to an administrative error.
But on Tuesday it was reported that China was angry about a reference to Taiwan in filed paperwork.
Air New Zealand passengers were left fuming when their flight to Shanghai was turned around after five hours (stock image)
Taiwan – a large island territory to the east of China – has been self-governing since 1949 – but China claims it is part of the country and fiercely opposes the idea of independence.
China refuses to have diplomatic ties with governments that recognise Taiwan and has been cracking down on airlines that do so.
Last year, for example, Qantas was pressured into changing the way it described Taiwan from a ‘country’ to a territory’ on its website.
Sources told Stuff that Air New Zealand officials were supposed to do the same in their flight paperwork – but someone forgot and this is why the plane was denied landing permission.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.
Dozens of passengers fumed on social media about the ‘serious administrative cock-up’.
Air New Zealand apologised to passengers and said a special service would fly them to Shanghai at 11pm on Sunday.
‘We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans,’ a statement read.
‘A technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China.’
Disgruntled passengers voiced their disapproval on social media.
The captain informed passengers mid-flight the plane was not allowed to land in China and would have to turn back
One posted a picture on Twitter of the onboard flight map showing the aircraft turning around over Papua New Guinea.
‘I’ve just experienced a new level of China Bad: midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given this plane permission to land, so we needed to turn around. A permitting issue, supposedly,’ the passenger commented.
The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on August 24 last year, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.