25 Jul 2014

New Plymouth runway clear again

8:53 pm on 25 July 2014

Airport staff in New Plymouth have cleared the runway after a plane broke down as it was preparing to take off on Friday afternoon, forcing some flights to be cancelled.

Manager Kevin Hill said the Air New Zealand plane bound for Wellington made its way down the runway but the pilot encountered problems with the steering and the wheels locked.

"It was taxiing down the runway ready to turn around and take off and the captain noticed that it was pulling slightly to the left and ... finally it could only go round in a circle."

All flights in and out of the North Island airport had to be stopped.

Airport staff lit the area with lights from several vehicles in the evening so engineers could work on unlocking the wheels.

They were able to remove the plane about 7pm and two aircraft from Christchurch and Auckland have since landed.

These planes will be ready to fly out again in on Saturday morning, so flights will not be delayed as earlier feared.

Air New Zealand has apologised to passengers affected. The cause of the problem is being investigated.