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Mid-air scare for Air NZ passengers

Terrified passengers on an Air New Zealand flight from Wellington to Auckland this morning were forced to use emergency oxygen masks after the plane lost cabin pressure.

Auckland airport police was put on standby as the plane came in to land this morning.

An airport spokesperson says the Air New Zealand flight 414 suffered an unidentified mechanical issue.

The plane, which left Wellington at 7:30am, has landed safely.

Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer, Captain David Morgan said: “A Boeing 737-300 aircraft operating as NZ414 travelling between Wellington and Auckland this morning experienced a gradual loss of cabin pressure on approach to Auckland which caused the oxygen masks to automatically deploy in the cabin.

“The pilots immediately initiated a descent to 7,000 feet and the cabin crew advised passengers that oxygen masks were no longer required at that point.

“The aircraft landed without further incident and engineers are now investigating the cause of the incident.”

MP Claudette Hauiti was on the flight, and tweeted that passengers were calm, but that her oxygen mask failed to drop.

Air New Zealand has 11 Boeing 737-300s in its fleet and on average they are more than 15 years old. The planes are progressively being phased out and replaced by new Airbus A320 planes which are bigger and more fuel efficient.

A spokeswoman for Wellington Airport said it was an issue for Air New Zealand and refused to comment further.

Auckland Airport was put on “local standby”, with its emergency services attending the aircraft once it landed, a spokesman said.

Passenger Codey Jervis said oxygen masks dropped when the flight was about 20 minutes away from Auckland.

Mr Jervis, a Wellington marketing assistant, said there were no sudden changes in cabin pressure or loss of altitude.

“The staff kept us informed the whole time, they were really good,” he said.

“Some passengers of course were distressed but everybody remained calm and it wasn’t too bad.”

Mr Jervis said he was not alarmed when the masks dropped.

“It was annoying, it got in the way of me reading the newspaper,” he said.

“I think some people just found it unnerving. There was no one [who] got out of their seats, there wasn’t chaos or panic but I think some people just deal with things like that in different ways.”

Once the plane had descended to a lower altitude passengers were told to remove oxygen masks and the flight “flew as normal,” he said.

He said there was “a little bit of clapping” once the plane landed safely in Auckland.



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