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 ten hours later, leaving 270 passengers furious.
The airline said on Monday that China denied the plane permission to land in Shanghai due to an administrative error on its part.
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)
The flight was reportedly denied permission to land in China because the airline’s paperwork referenced Taiwan as an independent country. Pictured: Shanghai railway station
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.
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 (stock image)
One posted a picture on Twitter of the onboard flight map showing the aircraft turning around.
‘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.
Pictured: Chinese soldiers in change of guard marching in Tiananmen Square