KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — A Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur unexpectedly began travelling south and surprised pilots who were expecting a northerly route during a Christmas Day flight.

The pilot of flight MH132 noticed that the Airbus A330’s strange path soon after take-off, and immediately contacted Auckland Oceanic’s air traffic controllers, according to a New Zealand Herald report today.

A check revealed that the southerly route had inexplicably been logged with Airways — the air traffic manager for flights in New Zealand and the South Pacific — and subsequently transmitted to the MAS flight.

Airways said it is currently working with MAS — which lost two planes in a tragic 2014 — to determine how the unusual flight route had been submitted.

“We have an internal safety team who will investigate it,” an Airways representative was quoted as saying by the NZ Herald.

“The flight plan the airline filed with us was going to Kuala Lumpur but via a slightly different route than the pilot was expecting.”

Peter Clark, the head of New Zealand’s aviation regulator, commended the airline’s pilot for spotting the error quickly and resolving the problem, although he added that some northerly flights were occasionally routed south to avoid winds.

Weather did not appear to be a factor in this case, however, and Clark said the onus was now on MAS to determine the error that led to the plane flying in the opposite direction of its intended travel.

“The pilot has done a very good job by noticing it, querying it and not just blindly flying off and ending up in the Southern Ocean,” Clark said in the NZ Herald’s report.

MAS did not respond to the NZ Herald’s requests for comment.

The Malaysian flag carrier suffered two major aviation disasters last year, first with the disappearance of MH370 en route from KL to Beijing in March, and then, the downing of MH17 that was flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia. A total of 577 lives were lost in both incidents.