After almost two years in deep storage in Victorville, California, Air New Zealand welcomed back its first 777-300 aircraft, registration ZK-OKP, from the desert this morning.

ZK-OKP took off from Los Angeles International Airport just before 9pm local time on Sunday, 21 August, and landed at Auckland International Airport at 4:45am on Tuesday, 23 August.

Due to increased demand for travel, the airline is bringing back its largest widebody jet aircraft, seating up to 342 customers, to provide customers more capacity.

For the next six to eight weeks, ZK-OKP will have scheduled maintenance in Hangar 3 before re-joining the operating fleet in late September.

ZK-OKP is the first of four Victorville-based 777-300 aircraft to be reanimated and the airline is working through a programme to bring back the three-remaining aircraft over the next year.

The airline also has three 777-300 aircraft that were stored locally here in Auckland for the last two years. Two of these aircraft are back in service, with 777-300 ZK-OKO due to re-enter service in the coming weeks.