New Zealand PM flies commercial to Japan after problem with air force plane

New Zealand PM flies commercial to Japan after problem with air force plane

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Christopher Luxon speaks during a joint press conference with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape (not pictured) in Port Moresby on June 16, 2024. Agence France-Presse

WELLINGTON — New Zealand’s prime minister was forced to take a commercial flight to Japan after his air force plane broke down while refueling in Papua New Guinea, his office said Monday.

Christopher Luxon switched late Sunday to a scheduled flight from Port Moresby to Tokyo via Hong Kong because of a technical issue with the New Zealand Defense Force Boeing 757 aircraft he had been flying on.

A problem with a command module for a small flap on the wing meant the aircraft could not fly as high or as fast as normal, affecting its range, a defense spokesperson said.

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It was detected while the plane was on the ground in Papua New Guinea.

A delegation of business leaders and journalists accompanying Luxon had to wait until Monday to fly on the air force 757 to Brisbane and then catch a commercial flight to Tokyo, the spokesperson said.

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Luxon is expected to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during his four-day visit.

In March, the New Zealand leader had to fly commercial to Australia for meetings with Southeast Asian leaders after a problem with the landing gear grounded his defence force plane while still on the tarmac in Wellington.