Pilot refuses to fly gang members

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Alastair Dickie
Alastair Dickie
Three Hells Angels members were grounded yesterday after becoming aggressive with Air New Zealand staff over their gang patches.

An Air New Zealand pilot refused to let three male members of the notorious bikie gang on to an Auckland-bound flight at Dunedin International Airport yesterday because of the gang insignia screen-printed on their hoodies.

Police were called about 10am when the men became aggressive with airline staff, Taieri-Clutha area response manager Senior Sergeant Alastair Dickie said.

''It was a verbal disturbance that was starting to heat up,'' he said.

The three men were refused access to the plane after the confrontation in the domestic departure area.

The men were not charged, but missed their flight as ''the pilot left without them''.

''They settled down [after police arrived] and eventually co-operated,'' Snr Sgt Dickie said.

''One was reluctant to give his details but eventually saw common sense.''

A man in the departure area said he arrived about the same time as the police.

''They were running up here flat-stick - I didn't know what the hell was going on,'' he said.

Another man at the airport did not witness the confrontation, but saw police ''bail someone up''.

When approached by the Otago Daily Times while buying coffee after the incident, the three men politely declined to comment.

The men were booked on to a subsequent 6.30pm flight. They boarded the plane under a police presence, without insignia or incident.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the company was ''not in a position to provide comment on individual customers'' but the airline could refuse to carry passengers wearing gang patches or insignia.