Budget airline Jetstar has been fined $NZ6500 ($A5068) in a Christchurch court after a Chinese passenger’s nationality was changed, allowing her to enter New Zealand without a visa.
Jetstar copped the punishment in Christchurch District Court on Thursday after a Melbourne check-in clerk altered the nationality code for a passenger from “CN” (China), to “CH” for Switzerland, the Christchurch Court News website reported.
The Department of Labour, which brought the prosecution under the Immigration Act, said the woman provided her correct details at check-in, where a message came up telling the clerk the woman required a visa before she could get on the flight.
The check-in clerk then changed the woman’s country code to CH, which allowed her to board the plane as Swiss citizens don’t need a visa to enter New Zealand.
Jetstar said it was a mistake by the check-in operator.
“The check-in agent had received the directive, but thought she had entered the incorrect country code, so she amended the country code to CH,” it said in a letter.
The operator was very remorseful and aware of the seriousness of her actions, it said.
Judge David Saunders, who imposed the fine on the airline, said he hoped it would “send the message that they need to be careful with the processing of passengers at overseas airports”.
He noted Jetstar had no previous convictions.
The passenger was later granted a visa to enter New Zealand.