All Wellington Airport flights canceled as travel chaos continues
All flights to and from Wellington have been canceled until further notice due to strong gales across the city.
An airport spokesperson said “high winds make operation unsafe for baggage handlers.”
“Passengers are advised to check directly with their airlines for more information,” the spokesperson said.
A Things A Wellington Airport reporter said “around 100 passengers” were seen queuing at Air New Zealand check-in counters following the flight cancellations.
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MetService issued a heavy rain warning for the capital from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday.
“Heavy rain can cause streams and rivers to rise quickly. Surface flooding and slides are also possible and driving conditions can be hazardous,” MetService said.
A Jetstar flight from Queenstown attempted to land in Wellington around midday but missed its approach.
Flight tracking websites showed he was diverting to Auckland.
An Air New Zealand flight from Brisbane also attempted to land in windy weather at 2.30pm.
The flight was the most watched across the world on Thursday afternoon, with more than 1,400 people glued to its flight path.
The flight appears to have changed course to Christchurch.
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Strong winds are expected on the east coast of both islands, while heavy snowfall is likely over parts of Canterbury, Remutaka Rd and Desert Rd.
In Wellington on Thursday, Dayna Giles was anxiously awaiting the next available Air New Zealand flight so her 7-year-old son, who was flying as an unaccompanied minor, could arrive from Hamilton.
“It’s difficult when flights are canceled because I work and planning around his flight is not practical. He is only 7 years old and his aunt and uncle where he lives have work and a life too,” she said.
“I don’t want to put them out of their way. The plan is that if the flights remain canceled, I’ll drive to Hamilton and pick him up.
A teenager, who was on the Jetstar flight from Queenstown to Wellington which was diverted to Auckland, said the flight chaos was ‘panic attack inducing’.
She said she could see how bad the weather was as the plane approached the capital. She said as the plane attempted to descend, “it felt like we were falling half a meter”.
The flight was then diverted to Auckland.
“We were then led off the plane and received virtually no information about what was going on,” said the teenager, who was flying alone for the first time.
Passengers had to queue with hundreds of others to find their seats on a 12-hour bus journey to Wellington.
“I went to the start of the line and then was informed that there were no seats left on the buses,” she said.
“I’m now stuck…and all I was given was an $8 food voucher,” she said.
Things chose not to name the teenager for her own safety.
With all flights to Wellington canceled due to the wild weather, travelers found themselves in a sticky situation.
Shaun Johns was planning to fly to Auckland from Wellington to attend Liam Gallagher’s concert at the Spark Arena on Thursday, but his 12.45pm flight was canceled due to weather.
The self-proclaimed superfan has been “gutted”.
“I know there’s a good chance that [Gallagher] not coming back,” he said.
There were chaotic scenes at Christchurch Airport as travelers queued for up to two hours to reschedule their flights to Wellington.
Caelan MacBeth, an Orthodox Jew, had a unique situation. He observes the Jewish Sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night and cannot work or fly during this time.
“I avoid flying on a Friday to avoid something like that,” he said.
“When they said there were no flights until Saturday it meant to me that I should have stayed in Christchurch until Sunday which would have been a disaster for me actually because I didn’t have no community in Christchurch.”
He said airport staff were very helpful and he managed to catch a flight to Palmerston North on Thursday evening, where his parents could pick him up.
Janath Domingo had been traveling for 30 hours from Sri Lanka when he arrived in Christchurch, only to find his flight to Wellington had been cancelled.
“Twice now my flight has been canceled and I have no place to stay in Christchurch. I am very tired,” said Domingo.
Things Journalist Rachel Thomas has been booked to travel to Wellington.
Thomas has Crohn’s disease and takes medication. She had just packed enough for her one-night stay in Christchurch.
“It’s just stressful,” she said.
She said no alert was sent that her flight had been cancelled.
Most inter-island crossings were also canceled on Thursday after forecasts of large swells.
“A total of six crossings have been cancelled, including all Aratere passenger crossings in both directions, and the 2:15 p.m. Kaitaki (Picton to Wellington) and 8:30 p.m. Kaitaki (Wellington to Picton) crossings,” said the spokesman Walter Rushbrook.
Four Bluebridge trips from Picton and Wellington had also been cancelled.
The disruption comes after weeks of flight cancellations and delays across New Zealand which have left travelers stranded and sparked holiday chaos.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran has previously said it was the busiest time for the airline in two years.
A combination of savage weather, staff illness and demands for school holidays had caused disruption across the country.