Concern as ice delays plane

A passenger affected by a lengthy takeoff delay involving an Air New Zealand Boeing 737 flight on Friday has raised questions over the availability of de-icing equipment at Dunedin International Airport.

Dunedin optometrist Jack Crawford, who was a passenger on the scheduled 6.50am flight, contacted the Otago Daily Times, saying the flight, to Wellington and Auckland, had been delayed more than an hour.

This was because of ''ice formation on the wing tips'' and because de-icing equipment at the airport was

''away being serviced'', he said.

Mr Crawford asked why the airport appeared to have only one set of de-icing gear.

Dunedin International Airport Ltd chief executive John McCall said ground frost at the airport during summer was highly unusual.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said there was sufficient overall de-icing gear available, but the associated lifting equipment to enable staff closer access to aircraft was not usually leased until March.

''Safety is paramount and non-negotiable at Air New Zealand and in this case the pilot made the call to delay the flight until the ice on the aircraft had thawed and it was safe to operate.''

Airlines operating out of the airport all had de-icing equipment which they used, but also shared equipment as required.

The airlines worked collaboratively, but in this case backup equipment owned by a third party was away being serviced, she said.


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