Sales reps take to buses as wind blows flight plans

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
flights stand
CAMERON BURNELL
Auckland's Victoria Harrison faced a long bus ride home after strong winds kept her flight on the tarmac.

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Hundreds of travellers had their plans disrupted as strong cross-winds created chaos at New Plymouth Airport.

No flights were able to land or take off from the airport yesterday afternoon, with winds gusting at more than 83kmh.

In total, the strong winds affected 11 flights in and out of the airport until the flight schedule resumed about 6.20pm, after the winds dropped.

Flights were diverted to Whanganui and Palmerston North and buses were used to transport passengers to their destinations.

Victoria Harrison, of Auckland, was upset at the prospect of a long bus ride rather than a 45-minute flight.

"I'm now going to be catching a bus at half-three and arriving home anywhere between seven and nine o'clock," the sales rep said. "I'm not that happy; I'm supposed to be going away tonight for the holiday. I'm a little bit hacked off but there's nothing you can do about it."

Auckland's Tai Tulaga was just glad to be heading home to his wife and two daughters, including his 4-week-old baby girl.

"I'm going to make it home, that's the main thing," the Marley sales rep said.

"There's no rental cars and it's better than hitch-hiking."

Mr Tulaga said he'd been stuck at the airport before because of fog but the experiences had not put him off travelling to New Plymouth.

"I enjoy coming down here. If I didn't have a wife and kids, I'd spend another night," he said.

Airport manager Kevin Hill said aircraft could not cope with the gusty cross-winds.

"They can only take up to about 34 knots [63kmh] before it's considered too dangerous," Mr Hill said.

Yesterday's disruption followed a bad December when 66 flights were cancelled because of the weather.

"It's absolutely frustrating but there's nothing you can do about it."

Mr Hill said despite the disruptions 2012 had still been a record years with an extra 10,000 passengers through the airport.

Meanwhile, high winds downed a power line in Kaponga, cutting electricity to the town's swimming pool in Grace Ave.

The Taranaki Daily Newsunderstands the line was cut by tree branches swaying in the wind.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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