9 Jul 2018

Phil Twyford fined $500 for using phone on flight

3:06 pm on 9 July 2018

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has been fined $500 for breaking aviation rules by making a phone call on a plane preparing to depart Wellington.

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Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been investigating Mr Twyford's actions since he admitted in May he had used his phone after the aircraft doors had closed.

At the time, Mr Twyford apologised and offered his resignation to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Ms Ardern declined the offer, but stripped him of his responsibility for the CAA.

In a statement, CAA director Graeme Harris confirmed the Minister had been issued an infringement notice.

"Mr Twyford stopped using his phone before the aircraft took off so his actions did not pose a significant risk to the flight.

"Nevertheless he did breach the rule, has been issued an infringement notice and is required to pay a $500 infringement fine."

Mr Harris said it was "imperative" that passengers complied with Civil Aviation Rules and followed the instructions of cabin crew.

Mr Twyford released a statement saying he accepted the findings and would pay the fine.

"I reiterate my unreserved apology for using my phone after the aircraft doors had shut in preparation for take-off.

"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."

The story first came to light after National transport spokesperson Judith Collins was contacted by a member of the public and lodged a written question about the incident.

Mr Twyford then confirmed he had made a one-minute phone call to one of his staff while on a plane preparing for take-off from Wellington airport on 17 May.

He had not given it any thought from the moment it happened, he said.

National MP Gerry Brownlee was fined $2000 for breaching civil aviation rules in 2014 when the former transport minister skipped security to board a flight.

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