Air New Zealand’s non-stop flight from New York to Auckland was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Fiji during its first week of service.
Flight NZ1 has been redirected to Nadi International Airport, according to Flightradar24. The flight was scheduled to leave New York’s John F Kennedy Airport at 9:55 p.m. Thursday local time, but was delayed until 11:31 p.m.
He is now due to arrive in Fiji around 7.30am on Saturday local time and is expected to arrive in Auckland at 11.15am.
Air New Zealand’s Director of Operational Integrity and Safety, David Morgan, confirmed the flight would make a “short stopover” in Fiji due to “unusually strong winds on its flight path”.
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“The forecast headwinds along the way are significantly stronger than usual – stronger than our 12 months of modeling and other data going back much further,” Morgan said.
“Nadi refueling is our standard contingency plan for these circumstances and has also been used in previous years for other routes on our network. Although these types of headwinds are very rare, they do occur and we we planned it.”
Morgan said all 210 customers were notified of the delay before departure and the airline was working to rebook any further travel.
There was no freight aboard the southbound route from New York, and seats had been intentionally left unsold to manage the weight.
“We’ll have NZ1 home safe and sound – just a bit later than expected.”
The flight is only the third service from New York since the highly anticipated route launched last weekend, and the route’s second problem in a week. The first flight from New York, which arrived in Auckland on Monday, saw around 65 passenger bags abandoned in the Big Apple.
Air New Zealand chief operating officer Alex Marren said the airline unloaded the bags so the flight could take on more fuel to get around a forecast cyclone.
Earlier this week, aviation commentator Irene King predicted the flight might occasionally have to stop over in destinations like Hawaii or Fiji in adverse weather conditions.
Indeed, the Boeing 787-9 used on the service was approaching the upper limit of its flight envelope on the nonstop route, which has an expected flight time of 17 hours and 35 minutes.
King said Air New Zealand should make it clear to travelers that its “nonstop” service to New York can sometimes involve baggage delays or stopovers.
“I think they need to pick up customer service messages about potential risks,” she said.