A China Southern aircraft. File photo NZ Herald
The airline that forced a planeload of passengers to stay
onboard for five hours on the tarmac at Christchurch Airport
says it did not have the option to let them into the terminal.
The China Southern Airlines flight bound for Auckland was
diverted to Christchurch this morning because thick fog
blanketed the city.
Flight CZ335 from Guangzhou was scheduled to arrive in
Auckland at 6am, but finally landed there more than six hours
later at 12.46pm, an Auckland Airport spokesman confirmed.
China Southern Airlines general manager in Auckland Mike Ma
said there was no alternative but to keep the passengers on
board at Christchurch.
The plane needed to be ready to fly at a moment's notice if
the fog lifted and there would have been a longer delay if
the passengers had disembarked, he said.
"No-one can be sure when the weather will change to good
There was also no agreement between the airline and
Christchurch terminal to have workers bring the passengers
into the terminal, Mr Ma said.
Passengers were given water after about 90 minutes on the
terminal, but the airline was unable to provide food because
the terminal did not have the ability to provide enough meals
within a short period, he said.
When the flight landed at Auckland one or two passengers
complained, but they were "satisfied" with the explanation
about the delay and extended stay on board the plane.
Mr Ma apologised to those affected.
"I do apologise for the inconvenience," he said.
"But we have no ability to control the weather. We tried our
best to do the best thing and look after the passengers
A Christchurch Airport spokeswoman said when an international
flight was diverted, a number of different companies and
agencies were involved in decisions around the aircraft and
"In today's case, the airport company was not involved in any
decisions about the plane's passengers."
Meanwhile, more than 60 domestic flights were cancelled at
Auckland because of this morning's fog and 11 were delayed.
Fog had lifted by 11.25am, the Auckland Airport spokesman
Auckland's fog also caused a private aircraft from Melbourne
to divert to Wellington.
Jetstar flight JQ216 from Singapore was also delayed by 25
minutes due to the fog, Auckland Airport said.