New Zealand PM flies commercial to Asean summit

New Zealand PM flies commercial to Asean summit amid aircraft fault

/ 10:33 AM March 05, 2024

New Zealand PM flies commercial to Asean summit amid aircraft fault

Christopher Luxon, Leader of the National Party speaks to supporters at his election party after winning the general election to become New Zealand’s next prime minister in Auckland, New Zealand, October 14, 2023. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

SYDNEY — New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Tuesday was forced to fly on a commercial flight to attend an Asean summit in Melbourne after a technical snag hit his military aircraft, with local media reporting the delay may impact his meetings.

Luxon’s flight was scheduled to take off from the capital Wellington on Tuesday morning, but pre-flight checks found a technical fault with the aircraft’s nose landing gear system, a spokesperson for the New Zealand Defense Force said in an emailed response.


A spokesperson for Luxon’s office confirmed the prime minister took a commercial flight to Melbourne.


READ: Marcos arrives in Melbourne for Asean summit

Luxon met the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, after reaching Melbourne though New Zealand media reported the prime minister could miss his meetings with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Laos’ Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone.

Melbourne is hosting leaders and officials from the Association of Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN). New Zealand is not a member and Luxon is traveling at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

New Zealand’s defense force uses two Boeing 757-200s received in 2003 to carry the country’s leaders. The aircraft have become unreliable in recent years, with maintenance issues stranding its leaders abroad or delaying official trips on several occasions.

READ: Australia welcomes Asean leaders with fresh maritime security funding

Former prime minister Jacinda Ardern in 2019 was forced to fly home from Australia on a commercial flight. A military plane carrying her broke down in Washington, D.C. in 2022, while she also had to spend an extra night in New Zealand’s research station in Antarctica due to the aircraft’s mechanical issues.


New Zealand Air Force has been asked to look at back-up options to return the prime minister back home on Wednesday as engineers work to rectify the technical snag, the defense spokesperson said. The second Boeing aircraft is on scheduled maintenance and is therefore unavailable.

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TAGS: aviation, New Zealand

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