The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today.
Phil says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and food continues to flow freely during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
"Our Government has moved quickly to ensure New Zealand has the supplies it needs and to back our exporters.
"We are stepping in to make sure our exporters can get their goods to market so they can continue to support jobs and the economy," he says.
This fast-tracked funding is part of the Government’s $600 million aviation support package to help New Zealand exporters and importers, and minimise the impacts of COVID-19 on the aviation sector.
Phil says tonight’s Air NZ flight will be loaded with time-sensitive New Zealand exports and will return carrying essential goods and equipment.
"We are focusing on maintaining good stocks of all essential medicines, equipment and critical products. By supporting the aviation sector, our Government is keeping open key air channels to international markets.
"There is huge demand right now for air freight from both our importers and exporters. In normal times Air NZ relies on a mix of passenger and air freight revenue to maintain its operations. However COVID-19 has almost completely eliminated revenue from passenger services for airlines worldwide.
"That’s why we agreed to provide variable top-up funding for international air freight movements to make sure the flights are financially viable.
"This is one of a number of funding arrangements we’re rolling out to support New Zealand’s aviation system and I will be making further announcements shortly," Phil says.
The day-to-day arrangements with Air NZ are being managed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, who are also working with exporters and government agencies to ensure the right capacity is available at the right times.
Exporters can find out more details about the air freight service at https://covid19.nzte.govt.nz/page/air-freight-option-for-immediate-export.