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Skies filled with ‘flights to nowhere’ amid Auckland cyclone

Skies filled with ‘flights to nowhere’ amid Auckland cyclone

Seven “flights to nowhere” filled the skies around New Zealand amid the Auckland cyclone on 14 February.

Airlines attempted to resume services to Auckland Airport in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, but the carriers were forced to change course due to high winds.

Seven of these turned back to land at their departure airport, meaning they were “flights to nowhere.”

Meanwhile, another seven were diverted to different airports.

Data from flight tracking site Flightradar24 showed the aircraft on “flight to nowhere” journeys over the course of a few hours.

The travel term “flight to nowhere” is used in reference to an aircraft which departs from and returns to the same airport without landing at their intended destination.

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ281 from Singapore to Auckland was the longest flight to nowhere. It took off at 9.23am and landed back in Singapore at 11.35pm.

The journey usually has an average flight time of 9hr16m, but four hours into its route, the aircraft was turned around because of the high winds.

Qantas Airlines Flight QF145 from Sydney to Auckland had issues shortly afterwards, and was in the sky at the same time. After leaving Sydney at 1.35pm, it had to circle back and return to its departure airport just before 5pm.

LATAM Airlines Flight LA800 from Sydney to Auckland took off just before 1pm, and landed back in Australia at 4.30pm.

The airline’s later flight from Sydney to Santiago had to be cancelled because the jet was unable to pick up passengers and fuel.

Later that afternoon, Air New Zealand Flight ANZ104 from Sydney to Auckland became a “flight to nowhere”, landing back at Sydney Airport just over two hours after its 2.30pm take-off.

Air New Zealand had previously cancelled all flights in and out of Auckland Airport due to the severity of cyclone Gabrielle.

The New Zealand government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has called the cyclone “the most significant weather event New Zealand has seen this century”.

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