Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland International) has said it is resuming 14 international routes over a period of 16 days until July 9, as it aims to reach 60% of its pre-Covid international capacity, and it is bringing some of its B777-300(ER)s out of hibernation to assist, the New Zealand Herald reported.

Three-quarters of its international and domestic routes will have relaunched by this date, with destinations like Honolulu, Houston Intercontinental, and Papeete in Tahiti returning for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, chief executive Greg Foran pledged. He added that “come July, we will double our services across the Tasman and restart popular direct services like Sunshine Coast, Hobart International, and Adelaide International. By July 9, we will be back to all nine Australian ports which is an important milestone for us.”

According to the ch-aviation capacities module, Air New Zealand will connect 40 destinations in the week starting June 27, 20 of them within New Zealand, and this will rise to 48 for the week starting July 11, also 20 of them on domestic routes.

Of its total fleet of 111 aircraft, 28 are widebodies including fourteen B787-9s, which are already active; seven inactive B777-200ERs; and seven B777-300(ER)s, the ch-aviation fleets module shows. The carrier said in May 2020 that it would ground all of its B777s until at least the end of 2020, later extending this to the third quarter of 2021. In August 2021, it said it would fully replace its B777-300(ER)s with B787-10s by mid-2027. But in February 2022 it reactivated the first of its seven B777-300(ER)s, ZK-OKQ (msn 40689), for deployment initially on cargo-only services.

To bring one of the Boeing widebodies out of storage at Auckland International takes around six to eight weeks, Foran said. Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows that a second B777, ZK-OKN (msn 38406), has restarted flights, but the rest remain stored.

As with most airlines worldwide, Air New Zealand has found hiring enough personnel a challenge. It has hired or rehired more than 2,000 staff including 150 pilots, more than 500 cabin crew, and 270 airport employees. But 1,100 vacancies are unfilled, Radio New Zealand reported. The carrier, which shed about a third of its 12,500 staff during the pandemic, has resorted to offering cash incentives of up to NZD1,400 New Zealand dollars (USD879) to lure people to work for the airline as a matter of urgency.