COVID-19: Air New Zealand re-employs over 1000 staff as our borders set to open

The aviation industry was decimated by the pandemic, but with the border opening to all Kiwis at midnight tonight the skies are finally clearing. 

With isolation rules gone, Air New Zealand is preparing for its grand return and they're rehiring over a thousand former staff to help them do it.

There's nothing like the nerves you get on the first day of a job.

But for Christen McGoldrick, he's done this before. 

"Now that I'm starting to get back in it feels a bit more real, it did feel a bit surreal putting the uniform on this morning," McGoldrick says.

McGoldrick was one of 4000 Air New Zealand workers let go at the start of the pandemic.

After dabbling in real estate and even wedding planning, today he starts retraining as part of the cabin crew.

"I didn't think this was ever going to happen and it was a job I absolutely loved and had a passion for but then I also was like I've got other things going on too," McGoldrick says.

But he answered the call along with around 1200 others returning to the airline, with the border almost fully open.

"A real buzz around the building and around the business with those people coming back," Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says.

It'll take time to reach pre-pandemic heights, but from Monday there'll be 50 flights a week on 15 international routes.

Planes once grounded in an offshore graveyard set to roar back to life.

"80 percent of the bookings we're seeing coming through are for return journeys so that tells us that customers are absolutely up for travelling," Geraghty says.

900 New Zealanders from around the world are due to touch down at Auckland Airport tomorrow.

"The rest of the world is open and now we're joining them so I think covid, although it's not over, we're going to manage the situation and I think we're just going to join the global community," New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Capt. Andrew Ridling says.

An industry that's finally healing.

"Welcome aboard Air New Zealand flight… back," McGoldrick says