Flights have been held in the air or diverted after Auckland Airport suddenly closed its runway for a patch-up when debris was found.

Although the airport is releasing few details of the work required, a spokesman said it was closed briefly today following the identification of FOD (foreign object debris) and the need to carry out a small patch repair.

'This was ''standard practice'' at airfields around the world, and the work took about 20 minutes to complete, he said.

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The debris came from the runway itself and one airport operator said it could have possibly been joint caulking coming away.

Air New Zealand says the closure of the runway this afternoon impacted a number of regional services.

A Singapore Airlines flight was diverted to Ohakea.

As a result, six turboprop aircraft due to arrive at Auckland Airport have diverted to either Tauranga, Rotorua or Hamilton, where they will refuel and continue to Auckland.

Four regional flights due to depart Auckland Airport have been delayed.

There has been no impact to the airline's jet services.

The airport spokesman said two international and three domestic flights were diverted from Auckland Airport this afternoon following a temporary closure for runway maintenance.

A number of other flights were held in the air.

''On occasion Auckland Airport will temporarily close the runway to allow closer inspection of a particular area and/or undertake maintenance if required.''


The spokesman said runway integrity was Auckland Airport's ''highest priority.''

''We have a comprehensive aerodrome management programme which includes a physical inspection of the runway 4 times in every 24 hour period.''

At off-peak times there are twice weekly runway closures for planned and preventive maintenance.

''On occasion Auckland Airport will temporarily close the runway outside the planned closure windows to allow closer inspection of a particular area, to remove FOD and/or undertake maintenance if required,'' he said.

''We apologise for the inconvenience caused today.''

Many other airlines' flights have had arrival times delayed, according to the airport's website.

Fiji Airways, Cathay Pacific, Aircalin flights have also been delayed, according to arrivals information.