02 December 2011

Q300 broken into at Paraparaumu

The break-in of a plane at Kapiti Coast Airport overnight potentially placed people's lives at risk, says the airline involved. Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillian, of Kapiti, said the break-in happened between 8pm yesterday and 6am today. The break-in forced the cancellation of the 6.55am Air Nelson service between Kapiti and Auckland. Grant Kerr, the general manager of Air Nelson, said the person opened the emergency exit door. Ground workers noticed the Q300's ditching dam device had been deployed, and alerted the pilots before they had carried out their first-flight inspection. A ditching dam is a 30cm-long rubber buffer intended to keep water out of the aircraft in the event of a ditching. Air Nelson said the aircraft had been put through a systems check and no other damage or interference had been found. It will be released back to service today. Kerr said he was disappointed the incident happened so soon after the Kapiti to Auckland service started. "I am disappointed that people with so little to do had not thought of potentially placing people's lives at risk." He said they would be looking at security at the airport as part of the investigation. The property was classed as a non-security regulated airport, so it does not have the 2.44m-high fencing security guards required at larger airports. The security at the airport is managed by the airlines. No other flights were affected by the break-in. Passengers due to travel on the 6.55am service were transferred by bus to Wellington Airport and put on another flight. Kapiti Coast Airport opened at the end of October following a long battle by owner Sir Noel Robinson. Mr Robinson bought the airport in 2006 and sparked strong local opposition after revealing plans for the 30-year redevelopment. About $4 million was spent upgrading the runway and aviation services and developing a new terminal on the site. The airport now offers flights with Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson, as well as charter flights. Kapiti Coast Airport chief executive Steve Bootten said the plane parking area was flood-lit overnight.

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