Air New Zealand has begun restoring its Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, which have spent around 700 days in storage.
Following an increase in demand for air travel, Air New Zealand plans to bring its Boeing 777-300 passenger planes back to commercial service. The wide-body aircraft have been stored at the Victorville facility in the US Mojave Desert since August 2020, after the airline ceased international passenger flights due to the global pandemic.
At the time, the airline selected the California desert to store its jets because of the dry conditions and low humidity levels, aiming to reduce the potential for corrosion on the planes.
The first of four 777s is due to return to the skies over the next few months, Air New Zealand chief operating officer (COO) Alex Marren confirmed to Stuff on August 17, 2022.
“No one could ever predict what would happen in the pandemic and now that demand has bounced back quicker than anticipated, we knew it was time to bring these aircraft back from Victorville,” Marren said.
However, as returning stored aircraft to service is a complex process, the planes will need to undergo a detailed inspection and necessary maintenance before the long-awaited return.
“Our 777 fleet needed a warm, dry place to be parked, and we made the difficult decision that the desert would be perfect for it. They’ve been in long-term storage for about two years, and they’re still in good shape,” Marren said. “Working with a local maintenance contractor, our crew has estimated that it will take six to eight weeks to get the 777-300 back in flying condition.”
Air New Zealand has already returned to use a single aircraft of the type to support its cargo operations.