11 Jun 2004

NZ says Niue air service could be example

10:46 am on 11 June 2004

The New Zealand Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, says the arrangement New Zealand has with Niue underwriting the twice weekly air service is a model that might be useful in other parts of the Pacific.

The region's Economic Ministers received an interim report on a study being conducted by Australia into how air and sea links can be improved.

Dr Cullen says the Ministers recognize the need for competiton but that there are probably too many airlines.

He says there may be a need for subsidies but this mst be transparent.

Dr Cullen says New Zealand and Australia may well be called on to provide such help.

He says the underwriting of Polynesian's flights to Niue, in which New Zealand promises to make up the difference if loadings dip below a certain level, is one method that might have a wider use.

"I think that is one potential model, I think there'll be a range of models which would be appropriate in the context of that kind of transparent arrangement. The reason for being transparent and accountable is also, it becomes contestable at that point, and other providers are able to offer to pick up services, which may be cheaper than an incumbent provider might charge."