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Pax ‘return duty free at airport’ after plane turns back

July 7, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A packed Air New Zealand night flight heading across the Tasman Sea on the way to Hong Kong was forced to turn back to Auckland after one of its pilots fell ill soon after take-off.

The airline’s chief pilot, Captain David Morgan, said after consulting with doctors, it was decided the flight should return to Auckland International Airport.

“The aircraft was met by an ambulance on arrival and the pilot is now being monitored in hospital,” he told Fairfax in New Zealand.

The Aviation Herald reported that the plane, a B777-200 operating flight NZ87, was about 850 nautical miles north-northwest of Auckland when the captain began feeling increasingly unwell. The aircraft returned to Auckland for a safe landing about two hours later.

The captain was taking a scheduled rest and was not at the controls when the decision was taken to return to Auckland, the airline said.

Passengers on the flight who live outside Auckland were provided hotel accommodation until the flight departed.

Well known New Zealand travel blogger Megan Singleton, who blogs on, had relatives on the flight. She told Fairfax in New Zealand that passengers arrived back in Auckland to chaotic scenes, being told to head into transit and then to collect all their belongings and return their duty free.

Singleton said passengers were lined up for 90 minutes “just to receive a slip of paper telling them to call this 0800 number and rebook themselves on a flight”.

Written by Peter Needham

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