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Air New Zealand passengers in five-hour ordeal as Dunedin flight returns to Auckland

We’re back: Passengers on NZ671 spent almost five hours on a botched flight to Dunedin. Photo / Sophea, Aviation_New_Zealand, TikTok; Mark Mitchell

Auckland passengers expecting a short trip to Dunedin yesterday ended up stuck on a four-and-a-half-hour service to nowhere.

NZ671 departed Auckland at 7.30am for Otago, but returned to Auckland shortly after midday.

It would have been quicker to fly to Australia, one plane spotter said.

After spending almost an hour and a half waiting over Oamaru, she made an unsuccessful landing attempt at 1030 hours. The pilots had no choice but to return to Auckland.

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“Air New Zealand flight NZ671 from Auckland to Dunedin has just landed at Auckland Airport after 4 hours and 30 minutes in the air!” said Sophean Ngoun, a Wellington-based aviation fan, via TikTok.

@newzealand_aviation

Air New Zealand flight NZ671 from Auckland to Dunedin has just landed at Auckland Airport after 4 hours and 30 minutes in the air! From New Zealand to Australia it takes less 🤯✈️ #fyp #foryou #aviation #airbus #airbus320 #airnz #airnewzealand #divertedflight #cabincrew #badweather

♬ Helicopter – Fazlija

The route has had some unreliability recently.

This was the second time this week the flight returned to Auckland Airport, after a similar diversion on Tuesday. The diversions involved two different aircraft, and on 21 May NZ671 reached Mosgiel before returning to Tāmaki Makaurau.

Passengers and plane spotters wanted to know why they weren’t diverted to a closer airport, as Invercargill was just a two-hour bus ride from Dunedin airport.

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Sophean speculated that this was due to fog on the runway and that the plane was headed back to Auckland due to scheduling requirements.

Fog over Dunedin airport diverts flights

Air New Zealand said it was a difficult time of year to forecast flying conditions.

“As we approach the colder months, the weather across the country tends to become a little more unpredictable,” said the airline’s chief operating officer, Hugh Pearce. Herald.

Fog was the main reason for delays and disruptions, including on the two services from Auckland to Dunedin.

Mr Pearce said in these cases, despite being much closer to other airports, diverting back to Auckland was the best option for network operations.

“If a plane cannot land at its intended destination due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather, it will often return to the port from which it departed. “This helps us protect our wider schedule by getting aircraft and crew where they need to be, and means customers can be more easily rebooked on the next available service.”

NZ671 was one of five flights canceled or affected by the wintry scenes in Otago yesterday.

Chris Snow, director of marketing at Dunedin airport, told Otago Daily Times that in the afternoon the airport was moving again and they hoped there would be no more interruptions.

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