The airline said An Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back several hours into its journey on Sunday after discovering it did not have permission to land in China.
“A technicality meant the particular aircraft operating this service did not have Chinese regulatory authority to land in China,” the airline said.
China’s foreign ministry did not make any immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. Calls to the civil aviation administration were not answered.
Air New Zealand said, “We know customers will be deeply disappointed and frustrated by this situation and we are very sorry for the disruption to their travel plans,”
One posted a picture on Twitter of the onboard flight map showing the aircraft turning around over Papua New Guinea.