Air New Zealand (NZ, Auckland Int'l) has leased in two aircraft from Hi Fly (5K, Lisbon) to cover the absence of two B787-9s, grounded due to engine maintenance issues.

The carrier said in a statement it had leased in one A330-200 and one A340-300 from the Portuguese ACMI specialist. Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows that Hi Fly Malta (HFM, Malta) A340-300 9H-FOX (msn 185) has already been positioned to Auckland.

The new aircraft are expected to operate all Auckland-Perth Int'l services and some of the carrier's Auckland-Sydney Kingsford Smith flights. The former route is currently served exclusively with B787-9s while the latter is flown with a mix of B777-200s, B777-300(ER)s, B787-9s and occasionally a narrow-body A320-100/-200.

Air New Zealand has decided to lease external capacity due to issues with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines powering its B787-9s.

In the last few days, Air New Zealand flights from Auckland to Tokyo Narita and Buenos Aires Ezeiza operated by B787-9s were forced to return after experiencing mechanical and possibly engine-related issues shortly after take-off. Both incidents are currently under investigation by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

"Rolls-Royce has informed Air New Zealand that some of its engines on the Boeing 787-9 fleet will require maintenance sooner than previously advised and that it does not have any spare engines available while that maintenance work is undertaken," Air New Zealand stated in a stock market filing.

Thanks to the two Hi Fly aircraft Air New Zealand will be available to operate a "near-normal" timetable, the carrier said in a statement. The aircraft will be operated by Hi Fly's crews as Air New Zealand does not have cockpit nor cabin staff certified on Airbus wide-body aircraft.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the New Zealandic carrier currently operates a fleet of eleven B787-9s, all powered with Trent 1000 motors.

Similar issues with Trent 1000 engines have forced Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) to lease in ex-Air Berlin (AB, Berlin Tegel) A330-200s to cover for B787-9 downtime in 2018.