The evacuation of Rotorua Airport is over, after the unattended bag was found to have been forgotten by a departed passenger.

Senior Sergeant Courtney Brunt said following inquiries with the airline, the bag was confirmed to belong to a passenger who had inadvertently left it behind.

The terminal was reopened about 8.20pm.

Rotorua Airport acting chief executive, Wayne Wootten, said airport staff were unable to locate the owner of the bag, so notified police who evacuated the terminal and moved the bag to the carpark as a precaution. The carpark was closed as a result.

Advertisement

"Airline staff were able to locate the passenger in transit and, apart from being terribly embarrassed at their error, were able to confirm that it had simply been left behind."

Mr Wootten said the bag was scanned and cleared by Aviation Security, with the carpark and terminal being released at approximately 8.20pm.

"Unfortunately due to the carkpark closure, three passengers on the last flight from Auckland were unable to retrieve their cars and leave the airport, and were transferred to the Fire Station until the bag was cleared.

"While the unattended bag was clearly a genuine mistake, it has caused a certain amount of inconvenience to passengers, staff and emergency services. We would like to thank everyone involved for their support and understanding during this situation.

"Tonight's events serve as a timely reminder not to leave any luggage unattended in the airport at any time, as we take all such circumstances seriously in order to ensure the safety and security of travellers and staff."

Earlier:

Rotorua Airport has been evacuated after an unattended piece of luggage was found in the terminal.

Senior Sergeant Courtney Brunt of the Bay of Plenty district command centre said police received a call from the airport about 6.30pm.

Advertisement

"We're dealing with a piece of unattended luggage left in the terminal at Rotorua Airport.

"The terminal has been evacuated while we ascertain the owner of the piece of luggage and make contact with them to make sure there's no suspicious circumstances," Mr Brunt said.

The Rotorua Fire Brigade is also at the airport.

A fire service spokesman said they were called to assist police just before 7pm.

Rotorua Daily Post photographer Stephen Parker is at the airport.

He said police and fire staff were still outside, with the terminal remaining closed off.

A flight from Auckland landed at 7.33pm.

Mr Parker said the passengers got off the plane and were taken around the terminal and through a side gate to the car park, to avoid having to enter the building.

Another flight, from Wellington, is expected to land about 8.15pm. There are no further departures scheduled tonight.

Mr Parker said police were stopping cars from getting "anywhere near" the terminal and cars were being directed to a parking area left of the main carpark.

He said a number of people were milling around, including taxi drivers and people waiting to pick up passengers.