The first flight carrying stranded German tourists and citizens home from New Zealand has taken off from Auckland airport.
The 342-seat Air NZ 777-300 left Auckland at 4.30pm and will stop in Vancouver before landing at Frankfurt's Main Airport early on Saturday, April 4 local time.
Air NZ said flight NZ1960 was the first of several 777-300's chartered by the German Government.
More would take off from Auckland and Christchurch in the coming days.
Four pilots and 12 cabin crew would fly the first leg to Vancouver and a replacement crew would fly on to Frankfurt.
Air NZ chief operational integrity and standards officer Captain David Morgan said detailed plans were in place to ensure passengers returned home safely.
"Our teams have quickly mobilised a schedule with daily flights scheduled through to next Wednesday, and more to come," he said.
"Naturally the wellbeing of our passengers and crew is Air New Zealand's top priority and we are incredibly grateful for the measures put in place by the New Zealand Government to ensure the safe departure of foreign nationals from our shores."
Air New Zealand was also working with several other governments on requests for repatriation charters.