Air New Zealand announced on February 22 a year ago that it would begin offering direct flights between Auckland and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport beginning on November 1.
In a statement, Air New Zealand said a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that joined its fleet late past year was not yet certified to fly to China but was "unfortunately assigned" for the Shanghai flight.
'We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans, ' a statement read.
The same flight, NZ289, was turned back on a flight to China on August 24 a year ago, although an airline spokeswoman said that was due to an engineering issue, not a permitting one.
The airline received the aircraft at the end of September 2018 and was previously employed on routes between New Zealand and Singapore, the United States and Australia.
When asked to comment on the issue by the news agency, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denied that it was an indication of strained relations between China and her country, and was instead due to administrative issues.
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Air New Zealand did not respond to questions about a Taiwan link but said "as is required, the application includes a list of destinations the airline operates to, including Taipei".
Air NZ flight 289, which was bound for Shanghai, was forced to turn back to Auckland after several hours in the air because Chinese authorities deemed that its application to land in China contained wording that indicated Taiwan is an independent country, according to sources cited by Stuff. "Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this New Zealand government and China?" opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges wrote on social network Twitter on Sunday.
"In the past New Zealand has enjoyed a consensus approach to foreign policy, a unified front, that's in New Zealand's best interests". "That was a effect", she added.
A major joint tourism event to be unveiled in Wellington between the two countries has also been postponed, with reports that China refused to send any government ministers to attend.
Acknowledging that there are geopolitical tensions rupturing between China & NZ isn't being disloyal to Jacinda, it's the inevitability of forces well beyond our shores.
She said it was most likely the aircraft registration filed with the Chinese authorities was different from the registration of the aircraft that was used on the flight.