A push back operation which "pushed back too far" led to the cracking of tarmac underneath an aircraft at Auckland International Airport last night causing a four and a half hour delay, an airport spokesman has said.
The problem led to an Air New Zealand plane due to depart for Los Angeles at 9.30pm not clearing the runway until after 2am.
About 250 passengers were affected.
Passengers were in the process of boarding the flight when the cracks were discovered and they were told to exit the NZ6 flight.
Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn said Air New Zealand are investigating the incident but an error in the ground handling operation was the likely cause.
Reinforced concrete is ordinarily used to support the aircrafts as they are pushed backwards from the airport by external power.
"It looks like during the push back operation the aircraft was pushed back too far and it went beyond the designated reinforced area," said Llewellyn.
He said the flight eventually took off after 2am and Air New Zealand had catered for the passengers during the extended delay.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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