New Zealand Transport Minister Michael Wood said another $170 million will be set aside for the aviation sector until the end of October, drawn from the coronavirus support package.
When the borders closed in 2020, the government allocated $372m to airfreight connectivity for the International Airfreight Capacity (IAFC) scheme.
“International air travel essentially shut down as the coronavirus spread, so the threat of isolation from global partners was very real. Extending support gives a predictable and regular schedule of air services to safeguard New Zealand’s international connectivity,” Wood said.
“Officials are closely working with airlines and carriers, and are monitoring the international aviation market. We will consider extending support until the end of March 2022 if required.”
He said government support had allowed more than 6000 flights carrying over 120,000 tonnes of airfreight worth $8 billion since May last year, and airfreight capacity has reached 90 percent of pre-Covid levels.
“Over 60,000 people have returned to New Zealand on flights supported by the scheme – 60 percent 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 support from the IAFC scheme.”
Wood said the scheme had also maintained an important lifeline for Pacific partners – providing flights to Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Niue.
He said the scheme was modifying to reflect the recovery phase of the coronavirus crisis and would be called the “Maintaining International Air Connectivity (MIAC)” scheme.
The government set aside $600m for an aviation relief package as part of the $12.1 billion coronavirus support package in March 2020.
The current support agreements with airlines and carriers under the IAFC scheme are set to expire at the end of April.
The Ministry of Transport is looking for new proposals for the MIAC scheme.