Virgin Australia flight makes emergency landing after 'possible' bird strike in New Zealand

Flight VA 148 from Queenstown to Melbourne was diverted, the airline said.

June 17, 2024, 5:12 AM

A Virgin Australia flight made an emergency landing in New Zealand after a "possible bird strike," the airline said in a statement.

Flight VA 148 from Queenstown to Melbourne was diverted shortly after takeoff, the airline said on Monday. The Boeing 737 landed at Invercargill Airport, where it was met by emergency services, the airline said.

Michael Hayward, who had been sitting in seat 22F on the flight, told ABC News that flames appeared to be shooting from one of the plane's engines shortly after takeoff.

"After 50 minutes of flying to burn fuel and lose weight, the aircraft diverted to Invercargill," Hayward said.

Darren Robinson, of Shotover Country in Queenstown, shot a short video of the plane from the ground.

"Heard a loud band and went outside to see a plane engine on fire," he said on social media. "Hopefully they land safely."

ABC News' Joe Simonetti contributed to this report.

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