Two injured as Air New Zealand A320 scheduled flight encounters turbulence  

Ryan Fletcher / Shutterstock

Two people were injured on an Air New Zealand service after it encountered turbulence during a domestic flight from Wellington to Queenstown on June 16, 2024. The incident occurred as the crew was carrying out a beverage service on the flight.  

It is understood that one passenger was injured after a full pot of hot coffee was split as the aircraft dropped suddenly, with some of its contents contacting the female passenger. The other person injured is understood to be a crew member who struck the cabin ceiling as the plane fell.   

The affected flight, with flight number NZ607, was a regular scheduled Air New Zealand service from Wellington International Airport (WLG) to Queenstown International Airport (ZQN) on New Zealand’s South Island. The flight was being operated by one of the carrier’s 17-strong fleet of Airbus A320-200s, with registration ZK-OXH. 

Data obtained from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft took off from Wellington at 14:02 local time on June 16, 2024. The flight continued to climb to its cruising altitude of 34,000ft (10,363m) as it headed south to its destination. Following the turbulence event, the flight carried out a normal landing at Queenstown at 15:12. Upon arrival at the gate, paramedics boarded and attended to the two injured people, following which they were both taken to the local Lakes District Hospital for further treatment. 

Flightradar24

According to the New Zealand Herald, a spokesperson for Hato Hone St John’s Ambulance Service confirmed that two patients had been transferred to Lakes District Hospital, with both said to be in a ‘moderate’ condition. 

“The flight attendants were bringing the coffee/tea out and the full coffee pot poured over a lady passenger,” an eyewitness onboard the flight told the Crux website. “She received burns and a paramedic attended to her. Then much later once we landed in Queenstown the lady passenger got sent to the hospital in an ambulance. Ambulances were waiting on arrival. She had some blistering.” 

“One of the cabin crew told us how she was standing and went up and hit the ceiling. I have never had such sudden, full-on turbulence on my travels. The jolting and dropping, tilting slightly sideways felt like those parts where you go on a rollercoaster and start dropping down then boost back up. It was sudden and caught all by surprise. No coffee/tea was served for the rest of the flight,” the eyewitness added.  

A statement issued by Captain David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer confirmed that one customer and a crew member had been injured during the inflight incident. 

 

David Velupillai / Airbus

This latest inflight incident involving turbulence follows several others in recent weeks, following the fatal occurrence involving a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER flight (SQ321) routing from London-Heathrow (LHR) to Singapore on May 20, 2024, in which many passengers were seriously injured and one passed away having suffered a heart attack. 

Since that incident, Singapore Airlines has now said that it has adopted a more cautious approach to crew carrying out food and beverage services where there is a likeliness of inflight turbulence. In a statement, the airline said that its new policy would be that “all meal and drinks services in the cabin will be stopped whenever the seatbelt sign is switched on”. In the meantime, the carrier has offered an interim payment of $25,000 to all those who were injured in the SQ321 incident.  

While encounters with unexpected severe turbulence remain relatively infrequent, environment scientists have stated that such occurrences are more likely to happen in the future due to global warming and that all passengers are advised to always remain seated with their seat belts loosely fastened throughout their flight to avoid injury.  

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