An Air New Zealand flight was stranded in Hong Kong for 19 hours at the weekend, forcing passengers to sleep in the terminal.
Passengers included Tony Carter, Air New Zealand’s board chairman, who was flying business class on private business, the New Zealand Herald reported. Carter received no preferential treatment and slept in the terminal with the rest.
It was the second delay in two days for flight NZ80, operated with a B777-200. Thursday night’s flight was eight and a half hours late in taking off.
The airline blamed an engineering issue affecting one of the engines for the latest delay, the paper reported.
In Singapore, meanwhile, another delay hit Air New Zealand. A passenger on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 4281 last Wednesday contacted Global Travel Media to report the flight from Singapore to Auckland, operated by Air New Zealand under code-share, was severely delayed in departing Singapore Changi. That flight was stuck on the tarmac for four hours, with passengers not allowed to re-enter the Changi terminal.
The passenger aboard SQ 4281 said the problem was a sheared valve in the air-conditioning system. Passengers had wanted to leave the plane as the hours ticked by, but the Air NZ crew made them stay aboard “like good penned sheep” . The flight generally operates as NZ281 under code share with Singapore Airlines, the plane being an Air New Zealand B777-200.
Passengers involved in the NZ80 delay in Hong Kong were luckier in one way. They were at least allowed off the aircraft (after two hours), although their flight was no longer going anywhere. They had to queue for accommodation, in short supply in the city over a holiday period.
Many were unhappy about a claimed lack of communication from Air New Zealand.
“I think there’s probably some lessons to be learned,” Chairman Carter told the NZ Herald.
“It’s a very difficult situation. We’re in the middle of a typhoon. It’s a national holiday in Hong Kong. [Staff] have done their best.”
Furious passengers took to Twitter and other social media outlets to express their frustration, also emailing Air NZ to complain.
Carter’s riposte: “When you’ve got nothing else to do you send emails to all sorts of people.”
One passenger on NZ80 said it took “four or five hours” for bottled water to be handed out. Meal vouchers arrived 20 minutes before the food stalls closed and even then, some stalls rejected the vouchers.
Air NZ said passengers who had to spend the night in Hong Kong terminal were being offered a cash payment “as a gesture of goodwill for their inconvenience”.
Written by Peter Needham