2 May 2020

Another 50 cargo flights a week, to and from New Zealand

2:56 pm on 2 May 2020

Another 50 flights of air freight have been added each week to lift the volume of goods going in and out of the country.

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Photo: 123rf

The additional services add about 50 percent capacity to the number of flights already operating each week. But the new total of 146 is still far lower than pre-Covid levels.

The government says the new flights will strengthen the supply of critical imports such as medical supplies, and the export of high value goods.

With few passenger flights operating, delivering freight by air has become more expensive.

The government is subsidising the costs of these flights, but only partially. Six airlines are involved in the additional flights, which connect to Australia, the Pacific Islands, Asia and the US.

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Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the flights provided by the $330 million short-term International Air Freight Capacity Scheme help maintain New Zealand's trade links with key global markets, and were vital to the country's recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic.

"This new schedule restores more export markets to more businesses and with greater frequency.

"There is a huge demand for air freight, at a time when capacity is limited. This scheme helps provide certainty for business."

The funding guarantees services will be provided on key routes, and freight customers then pay the carriers for that capacity.

"The first successful applicants are Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Emirates, Freightways Express, Qantas and Tasman Cargo. We are working with other carriers, and expect to make further announcements shortly. As the market recovers, we will reassess the need for funding," Twyford said.

As part of the $12.1 billion government Covid-19 support package, $600 million was earmarked for aviation, including the air freight scheme, local air freight and domestic "lifeline air services".

Cargo customers will be able to access most destinations across Air New Zealand's traditional network, with a handful of exceptions, said Air New Zealand general manager of cargo, Rick Nelson.

The new arrangement means customers have more certainty about the schedules of freight services, he said.

"We are working to offer connectivity to and from the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as Houston and Chicago via Los Angeles and San Francisco, Hong Kong and Narita gateways.

"We hope the need to operate under an agreement of this nature will be a short-term business model, and in time we'll be able to revert to our traditional model as demand for passenger travel begins to pick up."

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