New Zealand PM flies commercial for Asean summit after fault grounds aircraft

SYDNEY: New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (pic) on Tuesday (March 5) was forced to fly on a commercial flight to attend an Asean summit in Australia 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 national capital Wellington on Tuesday morning but a pre-flight maintenance check on the aircraft found a major electrical fault, New Zealand media reported.

A spokesperson for Luxon's office confirmed the prime minister is on a commercial flight to Melbourne but did not provide details.

New Zealand's defence 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.

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 media reported Luxon could miss his meetings with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Laos' Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, scheduled on the sidelines of a Association of Southeast Asian Countries (Asean) summit. - Reuters

Melbourne is hosting leaders and officials from the 10-member grouping from Monday to Wednesday. New Zealand is not a member and Luxon is travelling at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. -

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Asean , summit , New Zealand , prime minister , flight , Luxon


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