24 Mar 2020

Government provides $330m in funding to keep air freight going during lockdown

12:31 pm on 24 March 2020

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced today that $330 million of the funding set aside for the aviation sector will go towards ensuring air freight continues on key routes for the next six months.

An Air New Zealand turboprop plane prepares for takeoff from Nelson Airport.

Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The government set aside $600 million for the aviation sector last week - more than half of it will ensure supply chains stay open and to deal with the immediate risks and opportunities that arise in the aviation sector in the immediate and longer term future.

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The focus is on the transport of medicines, medical supplies and high-value exports.

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"The government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand's key air freight channels remain open for high priority goods," Twyford said.

"We recognise how important it is to continue the flow of critical imports like medicine, and also support our exporters to ensure New Zealand is well-placed to respond to the recovery when it comes," he said.

"The rest of the world still want our food products like milk and meat. So it's critical that part of the economy is able to continue exporting and keep employing New Zealanders during the lockdown - maintaining freight services is essential to that.

"Under the air freight capacity support package, airlines and other air freight businesses will be invited to submit proposals for the government to provide financial support for them to deliver freight capacity on key routes,'' Twyford said.

Proposals will need to cover how critical imports of medicines, medical supplies and high value exports will be prioritised, and prices to be charged.

The request for proposals for the first round of the air freight support package will be released today, and decisions will be made within the next two weeks, Twyford said.

Cabinet has also agreed to fast-track immediate funding to ensure urgent freight services are not disrupted.

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