An increase in flights for the international airfreight industry are set to take off, with a fresh cash injection from the Government.
It's renewed the International Airfreight Capacity (IAFC) scheme until March 2021 to keep critical freight and exports flowing, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.
The lifeline support, which cost over $170 million has now ended but the Government is chipping in another $196 million from the aviation relief package as part of the $12.1 billion Covid-19 support package.
The first phase of the scheme went up to about 70 flights a week and stage two has up to 79 flights a week with more contracts being negotiated. Pre-Covid, there were over 600 weekly flights.
Michael Wood said the Government moved swiftly to keep New Zealand connected to the world with the Covid-19 aviation support package in March.
“The scheme has helped airfreight return to 90 per cent of pre-Covid levels. This means we can keep getting time critical freight like medicines into New Zealand and enable our exporters to get their goods to international markets.
“Having these international flights continuing means we can also keep bringing Kiwis home and get critical workers into New Zealand to support our economic recovery.
“New agreements have been reached with Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines and Malaysia Airlines to deliver airfreight capacity to key international markets. The Ministry of Transport is also negotiating with a number of other carriers and further announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
“Normally airlines rely on a mix of passenger and air freight revenue to make international flights viable. Unfortunately the pandemic has almost completely eliminated revenue from international passenger services.
“That’s why we have agreed to provide targeted funding for international airfreight flights to make sure they can run.
“I’ve asked the Ministry of Transport to review New Zealand’s critical air transport requirements for the future to ensure the Government is getting value for money and we are maintaining international connectivity. The review will be completed early next year,” Michael Wood said.
Funding from the aviation relief package also supports local transport operators to provide essential connectivity to regions and remote communities.