Watch: Air NZ's 'pretty dramatic' aborted landing in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Author
Heath Moore and Thomas Bywater, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 28 Jun 2021, 3:06PM

Watch: Air NZ's 'pretty dramatic' aborted landing in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Author
Heath Moore and Thomas Bywater, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 28 Jun 2021, 3:06PM

New footage has shown the "pretty dramatic" and "scary" moment an Air New Zealand plane was forced to abort a landing while attempting to touch down over the weekend.

On Saturday, locals gathered near Rarotonga International Airport to watch planes come into land.

But stormy weather and gusty crosswinds created a difficult time for pilots attempting to land safely, giving locals an eye-opening and close up view.

The footage shows the Air NZ 787 Dreamliner approaching the runway at a significant angle, getting just metres from the ground before pulling out and aborting the scheduled landing.

Flight NZ942 had to return to Auckland following the incident and arrived back on Saturday evening, making it a 6-hour return flight.

"The winds were coming straight across the runway so it had to turn back," Airport Authority chief executive Joe Ngamata told Cook Island News.

A Kiwi who witnessed the moment called the flight "dramatic".

"Dramatic aborted landing in Rarotonga this afternoon.

"An earlier flight was pretty dramatic but did land safely. And, yeah, it's pretty stormy!

"Anyone who's ever watched a plane land in Raro (it's a thing even the locals do) knows the plane NEVER faces the cars!"

Passengers onboard say they had been rebooked onto flights, after a lost weekend in the Cook Islands.

Footage of an earlier landed was also uploaded showing a plane approaching the runway on a dramatic angle.

The nose of the plane was angled towards parked cars and locals watching flights arrive before the pilot corrected and landed safely.

People viewing the footage were wowed by how the earlier flight managed to land.

"Omg facing the cars like that. I'm surprised that one got down but the later one didn't," one wrote.

"That is a first! Better safe than sorry eh," another added.

The flights were affected by the extreme wind and wild weather with 30-knot gusts and rain.

The islands saw half a month's worth of rain in a day the previous week, as the wild weather continued to challenge holidaymakers.

It is understood Air NZ gave affected customers alternative services.

The Cook Islands travel bubble has had a wobbly few days with some passengers being ejected from flights following the Wellington Covid scare.

Several travellers who had been in Wellington were refused flights in Auckland over Coronavirus concerns.

"Continuing with the precautionary approach the Cook Islands Government has taken since this pandemic began, a number of passengers were off-loaded from the flight to Rarotonga that arrived Wednesday 23rd June" Secretary of Health Bob Williams on Friday.

WIlliams said he had taken the decision to stop the travel plans after Wellington airport had been listed as a 'location of interest' following a positive Covid test result from an Australian tourist, triggering the city's Level 2 Alert status.

The health minister said he was unapologetic for the decision to stop travellers who had been though areas of interest from entering the Cook Islands. However, Williams was forced to back pedal when it was revealed that some passengers were incorrectly identified.

"I do apologise to the passengers who were off-loaded in error and for the stress and uncertainty it caused all off-loaded passengers," he said.

Tourists and Cook Island residents already in Rarotonga were subjected to emergency tests, after the report historic 19th June case came to light.

Visitors were forced to isolate while and there were reports of visitors being called "in the middle of the night" for test swabs.

"These tourists have mostly been 100 per cent supportive of our efforts and for this I am extremely grateful," said Williams.

Breezy but busy: Herald Travel editor reports from Rarotonga

Herald Travel editor Stephanie Holmes reported from a windswept Rarotonga this weekend saying that, in spite of some gusty weather, the were busy.

Holmes said she departed on Sunday's completely full flight - along with some passengers had been rebooked after being unable to land the day before.

Crossing the international date line meant they arrived in time to enjoy Saturday night on the island, which was pleasantly busy.

On the island, Holmes says, the vibe is largely positive.

"Many resorts are at 50-80% capacity, with groups of Kiwis enjoying a getaway from New Zealand. Cafes around Muri Beach were especially popular, and The Mooring Fish Cafe was packed on Sunday lunchtime."

Holmes says the weather is still windy but people are not letting it ruin their holidays.

"Tour operators like Koka Lagoon Cruises were out on the water today and there are lots of people snorkelling, kayaking and kitesurfing, so it seems like business as usual."

The remainder of passengers disrupted by the weather were due to arrive today.