Bird strike halts flight at Auckland airport

An Air New Zealand flight to Tonga from Auckland was halted just before take-off this morning after hitting birds.

Air New Zealand said Flight NZ970 encountered a bird strike in the early stages of take-off from Auckland Airport and pilots opted to halt the take-off as a precaution.

Passengers were returned to the terminal and arrangements were being made to rebook them.

Air New Zealand said emergency services attended as a precaution.

Northern fire communications shift manager Nicole Bernard said the Airbus A320 landed about 8.40am.

However, Air New Zealand later clarified it was before the plane had taken off.

Five appliances were at the scene and another four were sent.

"It's a normal response to a full emergency," Ms Bernard said.

An airport spokesman said the runway was temporarily closed but had since reopened.

He advised passengers check their airlines' websites on flight times.

"There could be a backlog, but it should clear pretty quickly."

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