Flights grounded, power cut as storm lashes N.Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Tens of thousands of homes in New Zealand were without power and hundreds of flights were cancelled Monday as a tropical storm lashed the north of the country.

A state of emergency was declared in five regions on the North Island, covering almost one-third of New Zealand’s entire population of 5.1 million.

Although the storm was downgraded from a cyclone before it made landfall, high winds and torrential rains have already toppled trees, damaged roads and downed power lines.

Wellington-based Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was among thousands stuck in the northern city of Auckland after the wild weather grounded flights.

“Things will get worse before they get better,” Hipkins told New Zealanders in a press conference Monday, calling for them to “be prepared, stay inside if you can”.

He said the government had considered declaring a national state of emergency for only the third time in the country’s history — but it was not yet necessary.

The government announced an aid package of 11.5 million New Zealand dollars ($7.25 million) to help recovery efforts.

Police said one person was missing aboard a boat, which issued a distress call early Monday near Great Barrier Island, north of Auckland.

Winds of up to 140 kilometres (87 miles) per hour battered the Northland region, while Auckland’s harbour bridge was rocked by gusts of 110 kph.

About 58,000 people were without power on Monday afternoon, according to Roger Ball, head of the national emergency management agency.

Emergency management minister Kieran McAnulty said Monday would be a difficult day due to the “highly dangerous” combination of high winds and heavy rain.

McAnulty added that it was “unsafe” to try and repair the network while the dangerous weather continued.

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and home to 1.6 million people, is

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Air New Zealand halts flights again at Auckland Airport due to ‘strong gusts’

Air New Zealand has been forced to halt flights at Auckland Airport shortly after they restarted, as challenging weather conditions from Cyclone Gabrielle continue.

Domestic and international jet operations resumed from mid-morning after most flights were cancelled on Monday.

However, shortly after 1pm Air New Zealand issued a statement saying they had temporarily paused flights due to strong gusts at Auckland Airport.

Jetstar cancelled two return services on Tuesday morning but was operating as normal in the afternoon, with flights from Auckland to Christchurch and Wellington open for check in, while all Air New Zealand flights were displayed as cancelled.

A Stuff reporter at Auckland Airport said shortly after midday, an announcement was made that services had been delayed. Boarding for a flight to Dunedin was halted, with passengers made to return to the terminal.

Air New Zealand stored some of their turboprops ahead of the storm.


Air New Zealand stored some of their turboprops ahead of the storm.

Air New Zealand said it intended to resume turboprop operations in and out of Auckland from mid-afternoon, but high winds may inhibit this.

Flights in and out of New Plymouth, Napier and Gisborne remained suspended due to airport closures and poor weather conditions.

The airline said a total of 592 flights had been impacted due to the cyclone, with around 35,000 customers disrupted across the network.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said they had added 11 flights to the domestic schedule to help with recovery efforts, with more to come.

Around 1500 international customers still had to be rebooked.

“Flights are very full but we’re working as fast as we can to rebook these remaining customers into the next available seats, and we’ve been in touch with them to let them know we’re pulling out all the stops to get people flying again,” Geraghty said.

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Air New Zealand cancels all flights from Auckland Airport amid storms

Customers flying in and out of Auckland Airport will face disappointment today, as national carrier Air New Zealand cancels all flights from its North Island hub.

In a statement at 2pm local time on 13 February, the airlines said: “Further to our update at 1pm today, Air New Zealand wishes to advise that all domestic flights in and out of Auckland have been cancelled for the remainder of today (14 February). This is expected to affect around 55 flights.”

On Twitter, it confirmed at 5pm that all domestic and international flights were affected. “Due to the strength and direction of winds, all our domestic and international jet services in and out of our main hub @AKL_Airport have been suspended,” wrote social media staff.

The national carrier’s chief operational integrity and safety officer Captain David Morgan said that “the strength and direction of winds at Auckland Airport are making it challenging to service aircraft, and it would be unsafe for our people to continue to operate in these conditions”.

Auckland Airport has been beset by difficulties in recent weeks after extreme weather hit New Zealand.

On Sunday, the airline cancelled dozens of flights as Aucklanders braced for a deluge from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Two weeks earlier, over 9,000 Air New Zealand passengers found themselves stranded in various locations due to flight disruption caused by flooding in the city.

Eight North Island regions, including Auckland, announced states of emergency on Monday, with at least 30 severe weather warnings in place, as the island hunkered down in the face of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Auckland is seeing forecasts for strong winds for the remainder of 14 February, with customers warned to expect ongoing disruption and delays

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