Long-haul kept five hours on tarmac

MYLES HUME
Last updated 13:56 14/07/2014
Dreamliner stuck on tarmac for five hours
Ian Little

LONG-WAIT: The Dreamliner spent about five hours on the tarmac at Christchurch Airport.

Diverted plane graphic
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A Christchurch man is among irate passengers ''detained'' in a landed plane for almost five hours at Christchurch Airport after their flight from China to Auckland was diverted this morning.

James Hobcraft says he is "furious and appalled" at the way the airport and airline company China Southern Airlines has handled the situation after their flight from Guangzhou was diverted from Auckland to Christchurch this morning due to fog.

There has been limited communication from the cabin crew and passengers were growing impatient, he said.

Hobcraft, who had been on the flight with his wife Xiao Xiao and eight-month-old baby for 11 hours said the plane landed in Christchurch about 6.30am and at 11am said there was still no word on when they would fly to the original destination.

Four hours passed before passengers were offered water.

He said his baby kept crying and many other children were sulking on the increasingly stuffy plane.

"It feels like we are arrested, that's how I would describe it, it feels like we are being detained without proper information," he said.

The Christchurch businessman and student had a connecting flight to Christchurch from Auckland that was set to take off at 9.30am, and believed the logical decision would be for him and other passengers who were intending on going to Christchurch to disembark while they were there.

However, passengers were told by cabin crew the airport would not let them off, he said.

"They are blaming the airport wholeheartedly.

"I feel like taking action, I'm just so furious . . . I've got a lecture this afternoon I'm going to miss and other things that I will need to reschedule."

The plane finally landed at Auckland airport at 12.46pm. Hobcraft said this was more than six hours behind schedule "with nothing more than an apology and one glass of water" for passengers.

He said passengers were given no help with connecting flights, and many who had planned to go to Christchurch - including a group of students - were frustrated.

"The flight itself was already tiring enough.. you're already ragged enough never mind having a baby who just wants space and to play.

Christchurch Airport spokeswoman Yvonne Densem confirmed the China Southern Airlines flight, diverted due to fog, sat on the tarmac in Christchurch for five hours before departing for Auckland.

She said when an international flight was diverted "a number of different companies and agencies" became involved in decisions concerning the aircraft and its passengers.

"In today's case, the airport company was not involved in any decisions about the plane's passengers."

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- The Press

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