Hundreds stranded by Tino flight cancellations

Hundreds of people were left stranded over the weekend after Air New Zealand flights bound for destinations all across the Pacific were cancelled due to bad weather caused by Cyclone Tino.

The Samoa Observer reported on Saturday that an Air New Zealand flight bound for Samoa at 2.40pm did not arrive, although that was just the beginning of the cancelled flights to Samoa.

According to the airline's travel alert status, a total of ten flights bound for Samoa, Tonga and Niue were cancelled. 

Air New Zealand announced on their website that they are closely monitoring the path of the cyclone.

"Based on current forecasting, we are anticipating disruption to our flights to and from select Pacific Island ports," they said during the weekend.

"Kia ora, we do regret this cancellation as a result of Cyclone Tino. We are currently investigating options to provide recovery service to Niue. Any updates will be available on our Travel Alerts page," the carrier said in an online statement while announcing the cancellation of a flight to Niue. 

One family returning to Samoa on a flight from Auckland on Saturday said their flight was in the air for almost 8 hours.

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The aircraft, which left Auckland in the early morning, was less than an hour away from Apia when its pilot made a decisions to change course towards Fiji. 

The plane eventually made its way back to Auckland as weather conditions over Fiji worsened.

"Everyone was saying, thank goodness the plane had enough petrol," said a family member who declined to be named.

The family was one of many on the plane uncertain and frightened by the ordeal, but who also expressed gratitude that they made it to their final destination safely. 

Most of the passengers booked onto subsequently cancelled flights on Saturday and Sunday were rescheduled to fly to Apia on Monday.

The Samoa Observer was told that Air New Zealand's first incoming flight at Faleolo Airport since its weekend cancellations was due to arrive at 11 am on Monday.

Meanwhile, despite delays to flight schedules, Samoa Airways flights continued despite the inclement weather along with Fiji Airways.

Wellington Airport was brought to a halt due to fog enveloping the city for much of Monday, leading to the cancellation of dozens of scheduled flights.

Tropical Cyclone Tino is currently moving further southeast and away from Samoa. It was not scheduled to land on island but it now officially poses no threat to the country. 

But the active convergence zone (a meteorological term for the meeting of two clashing weather systems) that had been feeding Tino remains. That is expected to continue to be the source of heavy downpours, strong and gusty winds and possible floods and landslides. 

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