Air connectivity scheme helping recovery take off

  • Hon Michael Wood

The Government has awarded a new round of airline support contracts through to the end of October 2021 to help keep New Zealand connected internationally and positioned for recovery, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.

Michael Wood said the Government moved quickly to keep critical trade flowing at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to support our economic recovery.

“The previous International Airfreight Capacity (IAFC) scheme was restructured in March this year to focus on staying connected with international partners and our recovery. It allows for support levels to reduce as passenger numbers rise.

“Airfreight capacity is at 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels thanks to the previous scheme and its successor Maintaining International Air Connectivity (MIAC) scheme, which have helped keep trade channels open and maintain supply of time-critical goods like medicine into New Zealand.

“Since May last year, Government support has enabled more than 7,000 flights carrying over 136,000 tonnes of airfreight worth around $10 billion.

“The scheme has also been critical for our Pacific partners – it recently supported the delivery of nearly 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu through the COVAX Facility.

“Nearly 75,000 people have returned to New Zealand on flights supported by the scheme – 53 per cent of the total number of people to pass through MIQ facilities. It’s unlikely those journeys or the freight moved would have been possible without it.

“New agreements have been reached with Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, Korean Air, and China Airlines to maintain airfreight capacity with key international partners. The Ministry of Transport is negotiating with a number of other carriers and further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

“There was a very real possibility New Zealand could have been effectively cut off from the rest of the world. Extending support to October protects our links with the rest of the globe and gives a regular schedule of air services for passengers and freight.

“Securing our recovery is a key focus for the Government and we are carefully watching the international aviation market. We will consider extending support beyond October to a final date of March 2022 if necessary,” Michael Wood said.

Based on forecast demand for the MIAC scheme, the Government has agreed to an additional $170 million in support to October 2021, which will be drawn from the COVID-19 support package.

More information on the IAFC and MIAC schemes can be found on the Ministry of Transport website and exporters should contact their usual freight forwarder.

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