Portuguese charter operator Hi Fly is heading back to this country to help cover for Air New Zealand, which faces more disruption because of problems affecting Roll-Royce engines on some of its Dreamliners.
The charter firm provided cover for Air New Zealand for almost four months over the summer on Auckland-Perth and Auckland-Sydney routes, and Air New Zealand said it would return as disruption from engine issues could stretch for months.
Air New Zealand said during the weekend that two aircraft would be grounded while engines were sent to Singapore for repairs. Last week more frequent inspections of some engines were ordered by aviation safety authorities.
As a result, some Perth flights from Auckland and Christchurch have been cancelled and a Auckland-Sydney service has been scrubbed over the next week.
Air New Zealand has confirmed Hi Fly is returning next month but has not specified which routes it will service.
Hi Fly said from Lisbon at the weekend that it had not yet confirmed the aircraft it would operate.
During summer it used mainly four-engine A340s on daily flights between Auckland and Perth and Sydney.
About 100 crew from Portugal, including pilots, engineers and flight attendants were based in Auckland over the summer. As a wet-lease operator, Hi Fly provides planes, crew and insurance for governments and airlines.
About 340 engines globally are subject to the checks ordered by European aviation regulator EASA and this was placing very high demand on Rolls-Royce's maintenance facility, meaning it may take a number of months before Air New Zealand's engine repair work can be completed.
United States regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, has also restricted the distance aircraft with affected engines can fly from airports which is exacerbating disruption to airlines such as Air New Zealand, which flies long trans-Pacific routes.
Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and standards officer David Morgan said the airline remained fully compliant with the directives of EASA, the US aviation regulator FAA, and from Rolls-Royce.
Nine of the airline's 11 Dreamliners have Trent 1000 ''Package C'' engines that need extra checks. Engineers are looking for signs of cracks in compressor blades.
"Like Air New Zealand, aviation regulators prioritise safety over everything else and EASA and FAA have taken a very conservative approach in the checks and restrictions they've put in place around these engines,'' Morgan said.
"Customers travelling on our Dreamliner aircraft can be very confident in the integrity of the engines."
He said the airline would need to continue to make changes to flight timings and the aircraft type operating on some routes in order to avoid further flight cancellations to the extent that was possible.
The Boeing 777s operated by the airline have GE engines, are not affected by the alert and are being juggled to cover routes that were operated by some Dreamliners.
About 25 per cent of the global Dreamliner fleet is powered by the engine type under increased scrutiny.