Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER out of service after thunderstorm - report

An Air New Zealand plane may have been hit by lightning at Auckland Airport on Tuesday morning amid the fierce thunderstorm that caused several disruptions.

One of the international flights cancelled as a result of the storm was NZ135 to Brisbane, which should've seen the Boeing 777-300ER depart at 9am.

Newshub has been told the flight was initially delayed, and after an inspection of the aircraft, was later cancelled.

If the aircraft had sustained damage that forced it out of service for a longer period, that could have put pressure on the airline's 777 fleet - just as peak season kicks off.

However, Air NZ has advised Newshub the aircraft has "been inspected and cleared to fly again by engineers".

At least 18 domestic and three international flights were delayed due to the storm. Along with NZ135, Korean Air flight KA1 - bound to depart at 1:30pm - is also listed as cancelled on the Auckland Airport website.

Air NZ asked travellers to defer any non-urgent travel due to the delays and to change bookings online, where possible, due to high call volumes. 

Captain David Morgan, Air NZ's chief operational integrity standards officer, says aircraft are designed to withstand lightning strikes - but they must be inspected before they can depart.

"While we regret the disruption to our customers, safety must come first and we ask customers to bear with us today as we manage through the effects of the weather and carry out these inspections," Captain Morgan said in an Air NZ release.

"Our team is doing everything possible to get our customers to their destinations. However, due to the uncontrollable nature of the weather and expected flow-on effects, customers should consider whether or not they need to travel today."

One passenger took to Twitter to describe landing at Auckland Airport on Tuesday morning, saying there was so much lightning they thought a strobe light was being used.