The head of a fast-growing charter airline that has plugged gaps for Air New Zealand across the Tasman during summer, says there's one important qualification for crew - a sense of adventure.
Portugal's Hi Fly is due to finish its operations at the end of the month, and in the highly mobile airline industry, its crew are the ultimate nomads.
The "wet lease" operator answered an urgent call from Air New Zealand, which suffered Dreamliner engine problems in the leadup to Christmas.
The Airbus A340 aircraft that have helped maintain schedules over the Tasman are heading back to Europe, one serving between France and Canada and another flying from Spain to Venezuala.
About 100 crew from Portugal, including pilots, engineers and flight attendants, have been stationed in Auckland over summer, flying daily Auckland-Sydney and Auckland-Perth services. As a wet-lease operator, Hi Fly provides planes, crew and insurance for governments and airlines.
New missions can come up at very short notice, and airline founder and president Paulo Mirpuri said this appealed to crew who worked for the airline.
''That is the attraction for pilots and cabin crew — the element of unpredictability of where we are going to operate. They can be deployed anywhere in he world,'' he said.
''If a pilot or cabin crew wants to come and sleep back home every day, they are not a good candidate for Hi Fly.''
Missions included government work transporting officials or defence personnel, longer-term assignments of up to six years for airlines testing routes or unwilling to commit to long-term leases themselves, and urgent replacement of planes that may be out of action, as in the Air New Zealand contract.
The company mainly flies in Europe and the United States, and Mirpuri said it did not operate in combat zones. Some flying into Africa could be ''difficult'' because of the lack of infrastructure.
Five aircraft are being leased to take Muslim pilgrims to Mecca in August for The Hajj.
Mirpuri was in Auckland for the Volvo Ocean Race, as his family foundation sponsors one of the entrants, Turn the Tide on Plastic, which is highlighting the threat to the seas from plastic rubbish.
He qualified as a medical doctor, is a qualified pilot and has been involved in aviation for about 30 years. He founded Hi Fly in 2005 and the company is on a steep growth path.
''There was a need in the market so we quickly established ourselves as the biggest wet-lease provider with Airbus equipment.''
Hi Fly now has 20 wide-body aircraft and operates on five continents.
The A340s being used from Auckland are old by global standards, and problems with in-flight entertainment have led to complaints, but they will be phased out as the airline adds new planes, starting with two new A330-200s in the middle of the year and the first of 10 A330-900neos next year.
This year the airline is also getting two Airbus A380 superjumbos, the first ex-Singapore Airlines planes.
During the Auckland mission, crew were welcomed with a barbecue by Air New Zealand, which has supplied three ''ambassadors'' on flights to welcome passengers on board and make sure they are informed about why the Hi Fly aircraft and crew had been brought in.
Mirpuri said his crew had enjoyed the posting.
''Everybody we have stationed here for the duration of the contract is giving very positive feedback. They [New Zealand travellers] are very warm and welcoming which makes the job much easier.''