• Passengers on an Air New Zealand flight to Samoa experienced a four-hour delay due to a misconstrued threatening comment made by a passenger.
  • All passengers were required to disembark the aircraft and go through additional security screening, causing the delay.
  • Although it was later determined that the comment was a misunderstanding, airlines take safety concerns seriously and appreciate passengers' cooperation in resolving such matters.

Passengers looking to head to the tropical paradise of Samoa had their outbound trip delayed by four hours on Thursday when a passenger comment was misconstrued.

Shortly after boarding Air New Zealand (NZ) flight NZ990 on Thursday, 17th August, the New Zealand Police were notified of a passenger making a threatening comment. While it remains unclear who the comment was made to, the airline and airport staff made no joke of the situation.

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Please disembark

All passengers were required to disembark the aircraft and be rescreened through airport security, along with their luggage. New Zealand Aviation Security (AVSEC) also re-screened the aircraft to ensure everything was in order.

While it has been reported that the comment made by the passenger was simply a misunderstanding, it shows the level of concern authorities take when safety or security comments are made. New Zealand Police senior sergeant, Wendy Pickering, stated to 1News, that:

"We have established that the comment was a misunderstanding and no threats were identified. These matters are taken seriously, so police appreciated passengers’ cooperation while resolving this matter."

Photo: Jordan Tan / Shutterstock

After all the commotion was resolved at Auckland Airport, flight NZ990 then reboarded all passengers and luggage, and was able to depart, some four hours later.

Direct to Samoa

Air New Zealand maintains up to ten services weekly between Auckland International Airport (AKL) and Samoa's Apia Faleolo International Airport (APW), in which the airline deploys a mix of Airbus A321, Boeing 787-9 and 777-300ER aircraft with the flight in question on Thursday operated by a 787-9, registration ZK-NZQ and MSN 39296.

NZ990 had hoped to depart from Auckland at 08:45 for the three hours and 15-minute journey to Samoa's capital; however, it only pushed back at 12:55 after the commotion subsided. This meant a somewhat delayed arrival into Apia at 17:11 instead of the initial 13:25.

Photo: Ed Goodacre / Shutterstock

For the return, this had a knock-on effect, meaning NZ993, then departed at 18:36 versus the original 14:45 and touched down in Auckland at 21:05, instead of the scheduled 17:55. This meant the corresponding service for the aircraft was then delayed, with NZ10, destined for Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), taking off 50 minutes behind schedule.

While it's frustrating when your flight is delayed, it is prudent that the airline follows up on any safety concerns for the well-being of passengers and crew. Air New Zealand released this statement in regards to the delay:

“We apologise for the inconvenience this caused our passengers. We take all security incidents seriously.”

Faleolo Airport connects Samoa to the world.

Samoa once maintained multiple international airports, namely Faleolo and Fagali'i Airport (FGI), the latter now disused. Faleolo remains the sole international gateway to the Pacific Islands nation.

While Air New Zealand is the most prominent international carrier at the airport and the sole operator with services to Auckland, the airline operates as a feeder service from Apia into the airline's modest network across the Pacific rim.

Talofa Airways 5W-JMJ
Photo: Talofa Airways

Other international carriers operating at Apia include Fiji Airways with services to Honolulu and Nadi, Hainan Airlines to Haikou, Qantas to Brisbane, Samoa and Talofa Airways both to Pago Pago in American Samoa, and Virgin Australia to both Brisbane and Sydney.

Sources: 1News