Government support to help restore international air freight capacity has added 56 weekly cargo flights from New Zealand, with more to come, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced on Saturday morning.
The International Air Freight Capacity scheme adds capacity for high-value export cargo and maintains trade links with key global markets. It also ensures there are essential imports such as medical supplies.
Phil says it is vital air freight capacity recovers as New Zealand responds to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we moved quickly to support charter flights to ensure New Zealand had the crucial supplies it needs and to back our exporters. However, these flights only allowed businesses to export to a limited number of markets.
"This scheme builds on that support, with a schedule of weekly flights to a greater number of global markets. This new schedule restores more export markets to more businesses and with greater frequency.
"There is a huge demand for air freight, at a time when capacity is limited. This scheme helps provide certainty for business, while airlines and carriers respond to a changing world.
"The $330 million scheme is short-term and market-led. Funding is provided to guarantee cargo on key routes under agreements with the carriers. Carriers then offer that capacity directly to freight customers on commercial terms," says Phil.
"We invited commercial proposals to deliver air freight capacity with key markets. The first successful applicants are Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Emirates, Freightways Express, Qantas and Tasman Cargo. We are working with other carriers and expect to make further announcements shortly.
"We are closely monitoring the international air freight market and will respond based on how the COVID-19 situation evolves. As the market recovers, we will reassess the need for funding.
"The Government set aside $600 million for the aviation sector as part of its $12.1 billion COVID-19 support package. Acknowledging the impacts of the pandemic on the domestic aviation sector, the Government has also provided immediate funding for local air freight and lifeline air services," says Phil.