Saturday 23rd Feb, 2019

Twyford fined $500 for plane phone call

Inset: New Zealand Labour Party. Background: Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

New Zealand transport minister Phil Twyford will pay the minimum fine from the Civil Aviation Authority for making a phone call on a plane after the doors had shut.

Acting prime minister Winston Peters confirmed on Monday the transport minister had been fined NZ$500 by the CAA, but the authority had determined it was not a serious incident.

“Minister Twyford has apologised for his actions, noting as transport minister, with responsibilities for the CAA, he must be above reproach on these matters,” Peters said.

Twyford released a statement accepting the CAA’s decision.

“I reiterate my unreserved apology for using my phone after the aircraft doors had shut in preparation for take-off,” the minister said. “This is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly inappropriate for me as transport minister. It is an important reminder to follow safety requirements around using phones on planes.”

Twyford in May offered his resignation as transport minister to prime minister Jacinda Arden, but Arden said that would not be necessary.

He told press the call had been to a staffer, and had lasted under a minute while the plane was taxiing for take-off, but nonetheless apologised “unreservedly” for his error.

Twyford was stripped of his direct responsibility for the CAA after the incident, and this was handed to assistant transport minister Julie Anne Genter.

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