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Christmas travel chaos: Holidaymakers to spend Christmas alone following flight cancellations and delays

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Passengers at Wellington Airport were told to return home following multiple flight cancellations due to weather this morning. Photo / Ilana Hanna

Weather has forced the cancellations of multiple flights throughout the country this morning, with some passengers now set to spend Christmas alone after being unable to rebook.

Eighteen flights flights have been delayed today at Auckland Airport and five cancelled, causing headaches for travellers trying to reach loved ones and backlogs for airlines and airport staff.

It comes as severe weather is anticipated for the Auckland region, Hawke’s Bay, Tararaua District, and the South Island’s West Coast.

MetService is also keeping an eye on rain near Mount Taranaki and around Motueka, at the top of the South.

According to Auckland Airport’s website – all five canned flights were to Nelson.

Of the flights that are delayed at Auckland Airport, six are to Blenheim, two to New Plymouth, three to the Bay of Islands, two to Tauranga, two to Napier, two to Taupo, and one to Nelson.

A flight on Christmas Day, from Auckland to Wellington, has been cancelled.

Auckland Airport has been contacted for comment.

A Nelson Airport spokesperson confirmed fog is to blame for the disruptions. Delays are flagged for Blenheim, New Plymouth, the Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Napier, Taupo, and Nelson.

NZME journalist Ilona Hanne was at Wellington airport this morning when it was announced the Air New Zealand service to Nelson was cancelled.

She said when the announcement was made that the flight to Nelson wasn’t going to be running, it had already been delayed.

“There was a very clear statement that the later flights in the day are already full, and there were no available flights now a seat today or tomorrow. So people were told pack up go home, make alternate plans for Christmas,” she said.

Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

She said because the cancellations were weather-related, passengers were told there would be no compensation.

She spoke with a passenger on an affected flight, who did not want to be named, who had bags full of presents for her grandchildren.

The woman was unable to get updates on her phone.

“So she no idea what was happening other than fact she was headed home alone for Christmas and wasn’t going to see her grandkids.”

Hanne said an Air New Zealand staff member was walking the queue and talking to people who did speak to the woman to help her out.

Another passenger told her they did not have any food in their fridge at home and now had a three hour return drive ahead of them.

“It’s not just missing a flight here, it’s that there’s a whole reshuffling of a big day for people.”

She said most passengers seemed resigned to the announcements rather than upset.

“There were more eye rolls and tuts more than anything. But yeah, the lady I spoke to was obviously quite upset and feeling a little bit out of the loop. She didn’t know what was going on.”

Five domestic flights out of Auckland Airport today have been cancelled, all of them to Nelson, according to its website.

Of the flights that are delayed, six are to Blenheim, two to New Plymouth, three to the Bay of Islands, two to Tauranga, two to Napier, two to Taupo, and one to Nelson.

A flight on Christmas Day, from Auckland to Wellington, has been cancelled.

Air New Zealand Head of Flight Operations Captain Hugh Pearce said three flights have had to be cancelled in Nelson due to weather.

Also due to weather, flights between Christchurch and Hokitika have also had to be cancelled, and all customers were being rebooked on the next available service, he said.

“We’d like to thank customers for their patience and understanding while we work through this weather disruption.”

A Nelson Airport spokesperson said fog had unfortunately caused disruption to flights in and out of Nelson this morning.

“At this stage it looks as though four departures and four arrivals have been cancelled, affecting flights to and from Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington.”

“We’ve added additional flights from Auckland, Blenheim, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as a bus service to support these customers, ensuring they get to their destination in time for Christmas today.”

Metservice has issues a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Auckland from 1pm to 8pm today.



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