Edward Gay and Katie Ham
Auckland International Airport has been closed by flooding, hours after a landing plane hit and damaged several runway lights causing major delays to flights.
A statement from the airport earlier on Friday said the damage to the runway lights was “impacting” international departures and large domestic flights.
The lights were fixed sometime before 930pm but by then wide-spread flooding in the terminal forced airport management to close.
“We apologise to any travellers impacted. Please contact your airline or check your airline travel app if you are travelling for any flight cancellations or delays.”
Roads around the airport were also hit by the flooding and heavy rain, causing traffic delays.
Earlier, Air New Zealand’s chief operational and safety officer David Morgan said a flight from Melbourne “made contact” with the runway lights.
He said the plane was able to taxi to the gate and passengers and crew disembarked “as normal”.
”In line with the airline’s standard operating procedures, we have alerted the Civil Aviation Authority.”
Wellington local Michael was on a plane due to take off from Auckland Airport at 5pm when the heavy rain began.
All passengers had to go back to the lounge, where they were told the airport was being evacuated completely.
Now outside the airport, Michael has been told that he will have to wait at least 24 hours until he can fly on to Wellington. He had already flown from Dublin today.
“It’s like a war zone here. They’ve started handing out water, people are laying their coats on the ground to try and get some sleep. It’s chaos,” he said.
He said there was only one member of Air New Zealand staff available to help with re-booking flights.
Rain had begun to leak through the ceiling, drenching bags that had yet to be collected.
“There are elderly people in wheelchairs who have been left to evacuate themselves. We need help, please.”
Grant Baber and his family were on their way home to Palmerston North when Air New Zealand cancelled two flights.
The family of five will now spend a night with a cousin.
“There’s water inch deep on the tarmac.”
Baber said there were also puddles on the floor, inside the terminal building.
“Is this a super city. I’m not feeling the super.”
He said at about 630pm the line outside Air New Zealand to rebook flights is about 500m long, but it didn’t appear there were any more flights tonight.