Malaysia Airlines has launched its own investigation after a flight plan bungle saw a pilot flying out of Auckland on Christmas Day being surprised by the direction he started flying in.

NZME revealed yesterday that the pilot of Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH132 queried why his Airbus A330 was heading so far south just minutes after take-off.

He wondered why the plane was heading towards Melbourne and not taking a more direct flight path to the Malaysian capital.

During discussions with air traffic controllers at the Auckland Oceanic control centre, the pilot was informed of the flight plan his airline had given to Airways, which manages air traffic control for New Zealand and South Pacific.

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He then continued across the Tasman Sea before heading northwest to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines today admitted the mix-up.

It said the pilot was given its flight plan by the airline's Operations Dispatch Centre (ODC).

However, Auckland's air traffic control centre was "inadvertently given an earlier flight plan".

"Both routes were following an approved flight path and the aircraft had enough fuel for both routes," a Malaysia Airlines statement said.

"The safety of both passengers and crew were never compromised at any time.

"Malaysia Airlines is currently conducting its investigation in the flight plan submission.

"Safety is of the utmost priority for Malaysia Airlines and it adheres very strictly to all safety procedures and processes."

It is understood passengers on board the flight, which left at 2.23am Christmas Day, were not alerted to the mix-up.

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Airways' internal safety team is also investigating.

"The flight plan the airline filed with us was going to Kuala Lumpur but via a slightly different route than the pilot was expecting," a spokeswoman said.

Airways will "work closely" with the carrier to find out how the confusion came about, the spokeswoman said.

Last year, 577 crew and passengers lost their lives on two separate Malaysia Airlines flights. Flight MH370 disappeared between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing for unknown reasons in March and MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made missile over Ukraine in July.