A man has died on a plane at Auckland International Airport despite desperate attempts to revive him by an experienced off-duty paramedic who was on the same flight.

The man collapsed as he was boarding Air New Zealand flight NZ56 to Nadi, Fiji, about 9.05am yesterday.

Some passengers were told to leave the plane so paramedics could treat the patient, Air New Zealand spokeswoman Kelly Kilgour said.

St John northern communications team manager Norm Ngatai said it appeared the man was having a seizure.


He said the off-duty intensive care paramedic with about 20 years' experience happened to be close by and rushed to help the passenger.

Mr Ngatai said information from the scene was that the man had gone into cardiac arrest.

"The intensive care paramedic was able to do the bare minimum without equipment until ambulance crews arrived," Mr Ngatai said.

"The patient had the right skills [available to be helped], they just weren't able to be saved."

Airport Emergency Services and airport police were also called to the scene but the man could not be revived.

Airport spokesman Richard Llewellyn said the on-site emergency services personnel carried defibrillators in their gear as well as having access to 12 others placed around the airport for public use.

Mr Llewellyn would not comment what equipment was used during attempts to resuscitate the Air New Zealand passenger, saying the airport would not comment on individual medical cases for privacy reasons.

Ms Kilgour said Air New Zealand aircraft carried emergency defibrillators that the crew were trained to use, as well as a a doctors' kit available to any medical doctor travelling on the flight, and radio and telephone links to specialist medical advice for the crew.


"Passenger safety is of the utmost importance ... [and] no effort is spared to ensure maximum safety both in-flight and on the ground," she said.

"Air New Zealand aircrew are highly trained for any situation."

Ms Kilgour would not comment further on the airline's response to the man's treatment.

"We have nothing further to add other than to confirm there was a medical incident during boarding as outlined before," she said .

The flight departed Auckland for Nadi shortly before 10am.

A police spokeswoman said a post-mortem examination would need to be conducted to determine the cause of death.

The case has been referred to the coroner, she said.

Mr Ngatai said the off-duty paramedic was well known in St John and had most recently worked as a trainer for junior staff.

He said she had recently taken extended leave and was believed to be travelling overseas to work in another country during her time off.

"She's highly experienced, she has been around for many years, over 20 years," Mr Ngatai said.

"The good thing about [paramedics] being in the right place at the right time is they have an opportunity to apply their skills to anyone in trouble.

"In situations like these, sometimes you can help, sometimes people are just beyond help and with the skills [paramedics] do have it just provides people the opportunity and a chance."