REVEALED: The real reason plane was denied landing permission in China

REVEALED: The real reason a plane packed with 270 passengers was forced to turn back after China denied the aircraft permission to land

  • Flight NZ289 carrying about 270 passengers left Auckland Saturday night 
  • Turned around halfway to China and landed back in New Zealand on Sunday 
  • The aircraft did not have permission to land in China due to admin error
  • The airline’s paperwork reportedly referenced Taiwan as independent country 

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)  

Flight NZ289 left Auckland shortly before midnight on Saturday only to land at the same airport ten hours later, leaving 270 passengers furious. Pictured: A map of the flight

Pictured: Members of the Chinese army, called the People’s Liberation Army, stand guard as passengers walk through the main hall of Hangzhou east 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.


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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.     

Why does China not recognise Taiwan? 

In 1949 the Chinese communists won a civil war against the nationalist government.

The nationalists fled to Taiwan – but still claimed they were the legitimate government of China.

The territory calls itself the Republic of China and does not recognise the communist government called the People’s Republic of China.

China claims Taiwan is a rogue province and is part of the country. It refuses to have diplomatic ties with governments that recognise Taiwan. 

The Taiwanese government has been careful to avoid any official declaration of independence as this may spark a war with the mainland.

All major powers, including the US, Britain and Australia, do not recognise Taiwan as a separate country.

Eighteen governments do, including Paraguay and the Vatican City. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.  

The airline 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.’ 

Dozens of passengers fumed on social media about the ‘serious administrative cock-up’. 

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.

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

Pictured: Chinese soldiers in change of guard marching in Tiananmen Square

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