Queenstown Airport has been evacuated and the bomb squad has been called in after police received reports of an explosive device at the tourist hotspot.
Police received a report of an apparent bomb threat at 8.40am local time, sparking a rapid response from airport authorities and law enforcement.
Passengers were ushered off a grounded Star Alliance plane and led to a secure location in the far carpark where police were waiting.
In a statement to media addressing the situation, a spokesperson for Queenstown Airport emphasised their commitment to safety: “Emergency services were called, and the airport terminal has been evacuated as a precaution while the situation is being investigated by NZ Police and Aviation Security.”
“Airport staff are working closely with airlines to ensure the safety of all passengers.”
As a result of the evacuation, all inbound flights to Queenstown Airport were diverted, causing considerable disruption to travel plans.
Passengers scheduled to depart from or meet incoming flights were advised to stay away from the airport until further notice.
“The airport terminal has been evacuated as a safety precaution,” a spokesperson for the police said.
“NZDF Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit have been notified and will respond.”
“Police advise members of the public to avoid the Queenstown Airport Area until the incident is resolved.”
One passenger spoke about the chaotic scenes at the airport.
“We arrived to catch our flight and, as we got here, we were told that the whole of the airport was being evacuated… So we’ve now got a situation where there must be several hundred people all marshalled in the furthest car park away from the terminal building,” they told the NZ Herald.
“We have no idea what it’s all about.”
“It’s really weird. Nobody really knows what’s going on apart from the fact we’re just being pushed further and further away from the terminal… there’s still people in the control tower, but no planes are landing.
“Everybody is completely at a loss.”
More to come …