Queenstown flights forced to circle after drone spotted

by Lauren Pattemore - Nov 30, 2023

Two planes due to land at Queenstown Airport were forced to circle after a drone was spotted flying close to the airport on Tuesday morning.

Jetstar's JQ223 flight from Sydney and Air New Zealand's NZ605 flight from Wellington were both delayed after being put in a holding pattern until an all-clear could be given.

A passenger on one of the flights says they were informed of the situation by airline staff, who blamed "illegal drone activity" for the change in plan.

A spokesperson for Queenstown Airport says staff in the air traffic control tower spotted the drone at approximately 11.20am, and Airways New Zealand made the call to put the approaching planes into a holding pattern.

"Normal operations resumed after 15 minutes."

The spokesperson says news of the drone was also relayed to police, although they were already aware of the situation. 

A police spokesperson says their enquires have uncovered no information on the drone.

Meanwhile the airport spokesperson says the incident serves as a timely safety reminder ahead of summer.

"It’s dangerous to fly drones anywhere other aircraft are operating. People must follow Civil Aviation Rules when operating a drone and can be prosecuted if they do not comply with the rules."

Need to know the rules when it comes to flying drones? Head here for more information.

Main image (file photo): Jet approaching Queenstown Airport.

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