Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is dismissing claims politics caused Chinese authorities to prevent an Air New Zealand plane from landing in Shanghai on Sunday.
The aircraft had to make a U-turn four and a half hours after leaving Auckland, as Air New Zealand found out mid-air it hadn't properly registered the aircraft with Chinese authorities.
The airline has taken responsibility for the blunder.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern said she had received the same information that Air New Zealand released to the public.
Asked whether she’d received assurances from China that the move wasn’t politically motivated, she said: “I see absolutely no need given Air New Zealand have said themselves that they know exactly what the issue was – that they did not meet requirements on behalf of China, and as a result they understand what has occurred in this situation and there’s an explanation for it.
“I think it is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the [NZ/China] relationship, and I think Air New Zealand have been very clear on that from their perspective.”
Ardern referred to the situation as a “straight forward” and “relatively clear cut” one for Air New Zealand to deal with.
She said she didn’t know how frequently Chinese authorities required planes to turn around mid-flight due to not having aircrafts correctly registered.
Air New Zealand has not responded to interest.co.nz’s query on how often there are issues with planes not being properly registered and how often this prevents them from landing.
Ardern confirmed she had an invitation from the Chinese administration to meet President Xi Jinping, but the problem was finding a suitable date. She was meant to meet with the President at the end of last year.
She wouldn't say whether or not she was confident the meeting would take place this year.