An Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back mid-flight after the airline discovered it did not have permission to land because paperwork had not been filed.
The issue reportedly involved documentation from New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority, which had been included with Air New Zealand's application to enable the plane to make a landing in China. DPA added that that the aircraft returned to Auckland about five hours after taking off and did not have permission from the Chinese authorities to land.
Some airlines, including American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., Hawaiian Holdings Inc., Qantas Airways Ltd., Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG cooperated with China's wishes on reference to Taiwan before last year's deadline.
"Air NZ wishes to sincerely apologise for the return and subsequent retiming of your flight, NZ289. A permitting issue, supposedly", one passenger, Eric Hundman, told the New Zealand Herald.
"Air New Zealand has been very open about the fact that there is a requirement from China's end for planes going into China to be registered". The Taiwanese government responded by condemning the letter and calling the action as "crude attempts to coerce foreign airlines to "downgrade Taiwan's status".
Relations between the two countries have become increasingly strained in recent months, following a recommendation from New Zealand's spy agency that the roll-out of 5G by Huawei posed "significant national security risks".
"It would be wrong to confuse administrative and regulatory issues [as] a signal on our relationship with China", Ardern said late Monday in an interview with New Zealand's state-owned television network TVNZ's 1 News channel, a day after the incident.
The incident marks yet another arbitrary move by Beijing to impose its ideology upon foreign companies, following the CAA order on April 24 of past year that forced airlines to refer to Taiwan as part of China on their websites, which the U.S. White House called "Orwellian nonsense".
In February 2018, the Chinese government had instructed airlines to review their website references, and remove any material that identified Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent regions - a demand that was reiterated to 44 global carriers in a letter.