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Air NZ flight to Rarotonga turned back midway due to ‘technical fault’

Wednesday 3 April 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in National, Travel


Air NZ flight to Rarotonga turned back midway due to ‘technical fault’
The Air NZ flight had to turn back to Auckland on its way to Rarotonga, as shown on this flight tracker. FLIGHT RADAR/FLIGHT RADAR/24040211

Passengers flying in and out of Rarotonga faced delays up to six hours after an Air New Zealand flight took a U-turn on Monday morning (Cook Islands time).

The flight from Auckland was expected to land in Rarotonga where it would then bring other passengers home, but due to “engineering issues” never made it over.

Yesterday, Air NZ chief operational integrity and safety office captain David Morgan told Cook Islands News that NZ946 Auckland to Rarotonga turned back to Auckland “one hour into the flight due to a technical fault with the system that controls the air in the cabin”.

Inflight attempts to remedy the issue were unsuccessful, Morgan said, “so in accordance with standard operational procedures, the aircraft returned to Auckland to be assessed by our engineers”.

Customers were reaccommodated on a recovery flight later that afternoon, he said.

Savan Pon was at the end of her family holiday in Rarotonga and preparing to fly home when she heard the news.

“Air NZ didn’t text or email me. They (Rarotonga International Airport) told me there’s problems with the plane with full passengers coming to Raro and had to turn back,” she told Stuff on Monday.

Pon said they were given lunch and dinner vouchers by the airline for the unexpected delay.

The flight not only interrupted their evening but she also had to rearrange her carpark at Auckland Airport.

“My kids will have another day off school and I have to close my business for another day.”

As Pon sat at the Rarotonga International Airport she told Stuff her family were all “frustrated” but it was “better being safe than sorry”.

“As long as I’m home I’m happy,” she said.

Morgan told Stuff on Monday: “Due to a lack of engineering support available in Rarotonga, the decision was made to turn back to Auckland so the issue can be assessed.”

Flight tracking showed the aircraft made it only a small way out over the South Pacific Ocean before having to turn back.

On Monday, Air NZ was unable to specify what the fault was, as the “engineers (were) still working on it”.

They also could not provide how many passengers were on the plane.

A recovery flight for those affected was scheduled for 3.30pm (New Zealand time).

“We thank customers for their patience and understanding,” Morgan said.

In February this year, the airline’s Dreamliner service NZ946, which had departed for Rarotonga Airport, diverted back to New Zealand.

After departing Auckland late around 9.40am, the plane made the divert when it was around two-thirds of the way through the 3000km trip.

A spokesperson for the airline said the redirect was due to a deflated tyre detected en route to Rarotonga.

- Stuff/CI News