Air­port back­log al­most cleared as fog lifts in cap­i­tal


As the dense cloak of fog blan­ket­ing Welling­ton Air­port lifted, air­lines spent yes­ter­day scram­bling to get thou­sands of af­fected pas­sen­gers to their des­ti­na­tions.

With most of the back­log cleared by late evening, air­port spokesman Greg Thomas said its ‘‘op­er­a­tions should be back to nor­mal’’ to­day.

Air New Zealand or­gan­ised ex­tra flights, in­clud­ing a Boe­ing 777 brought in from Auck­land, while a spokes­woman for the Kiwi car­rier said its ‘‘bal­ance would be ac­com­mo­dated by Thurs­day evening’’.

Jet­star con­firmed about 75 per cent of its af­fected trav­ellers would reach their jour­ney’s end by late yes­ter­day, with the last stranded pas­sen­gers head­ing home early to­day.

Two Qan­tas pas­sen­gers – quad­ri­plegic Aus­tralian man Paul McKen­zie and wife Jess – were stuck in the cap­i­tal for an­other night with their baby daugh­ter as the Aus­tralian air­line could not fly them home un­til to­mor­row.

A spokesman for Qan­tas said all other af­fected trav­ellers on both sides of the Tas­man were ‘‘ac­counted for’’.

Among the worst-af­fected pas­sen­gers were Nel­son res­i­dents Fay and Wayne Lloyd, who had been stranded in Welling­ton since Tues­day night.

The pair were orig­i­nally due to fly from Mel­bourne to Christchurch be­fore catch­ing an­other plane home to Nel­son, but their Aus­tralian flight was di­verted to Welling­ton. They have been in the cap­i­tal since.

‘‘It’s just crazy, be­cause there’s so much you want to do. You want to get home and get sorted. I was meant to be at work yes­ter­day. You can’t re­ally leave the air­port, be­cause you keep get­ting flights can­celled,’’ Fay said.

Af­ter nu­mer­ous de­lays, the Air New Zealand pas­sen­gers re-booked on a Sounds Air flight to get home last night. ‘‘I’m just over it,’’ Fay added.

Wayne con­ceded the fog was an un­wel­come in­ter­rup­tion for many. ‘‘It’s not the staff’s fault. I mean, they are un­der pres­sure. They’re pleas­ant but they re­ally can’t help you. There’s just so many peo­ple.’’

The cou­ple es­ti­mated the de­lays had cost them about $700 in meals, ac­com­mo­da­tion, taxis and cat­tery bills.

While the Lloyds were for­tu­nate enough to get ac­com­mo­da­tion near Welling­ton Air­port, re­tired cou­ple Alan and Bron­wyn Don were not so lucky – be­ing forced to hun­ker down in the ter­mi­nal overnight on Wed­nes­day.

‘‘It was a very re­laxed at­mos­phere. Ev­ery­thing is lovely and clean and beau­ti­ful. There’s still toi­let paper in the toi­lets, they’re clean,’’ Bron­wyn said.

‘‘The staff brought around water and, later in the night, they brought around some blan­kets.’’

While the Dons were grate­ful to be given an area to lie down, they said it was far from a peace­ful night’s sleep.

‘‘The lights were left on quite bright all night and there was mu­sic play­ing and my lit­tle com­ment is that, at 3am, you don’t want rap mu­sic,’’ she said.

Air trav­ellers try­ing to get in and out of Palmer­ston North also had their plans dis­rupted by fog yes­ter­day morn­ing, but flights re­turned to sched­ule in the af­ter­noon.

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