Air New Zealand Details 777 Reactivation Process

Air New Zealand plans to eventually replace its Boeing 777s with newer Boeing 787s.
Credit: Joe Pries

When Air New Zealand parked four Boeing 777-300ERs in the Victorville storage facility in the Mojave desert, it was uncertain if they would ever return to service with the flag carrier.

Air New Zealand had announced plans to replace the 777s with 787s, while chief executive Greg Foran noted early in the pandemic that the airline would probably emerge from it as a smaller operation.

However, the airline notes now that that “demand has bounced back quicker than anticipated,” leading it to reactivate its large widebodies.

After 696 days in deep storage, Air New Zealand is bringing its first Victorville-based 777-300 aircraft out of the desert. 

“When the hard decision was made to park our 777 fleet we knew the desert was an ideal environment due to its warm and dry conditions. After being stored for almost two years in this climate, they are coming out of long-term parking in good condition,” said chief operating officer Alex Marren.

Marren also described the maintenance actions needed to preserve and reactivate the 777s.

In the six to eight weeks it will take to return a 777 from storage to service, the aircraft first undergoes a wash to remove dust and grime. Shrouds and protective covers are then removed and servicing begins on components such as landing gear and in-flight entertainment equipment.

Once back at their home base in Auckland, the 777s will also receive any scheduled maintenance. Two of the three 777-300ERs that were stored in Auckland, meanwhile, are back in service already.

The first of the Victorville aircraft will arrive in New Zealand later this month, and the flag carrier aims to have all four back in-service within a year.

By 2028, though, Air New Zealand plans to have phased out the 777. At that point it aims to have 107 aircraft: 787s, Airbus A320s and two turboprop types with an average age of roughly 10 years.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.