The government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight in and out of the country - with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it's crucial that essential trade - such as food and medical supplies - continues to flow freely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Our government has moved quickly to ensure New Zealand has the supplies it needs and to back our exporters.
"We are stepping in to make sure our exporters can get their goods to market so they can continue to support jobs and the economy," Twyford said.
The funding comes out of the already-announced $600 million aviation support package.
It will ensure the freight flights are financially viable, given Air New Zealand has lost nearly all its revenue from passenger services.
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Twyford said tonight's flight will be loaded with time-sensitive New Zealand exports and will return carrying essential goods and equipment.
"We are focusing on maintaining good stocks of all essential medicines, equipment and critical products. By supporting the aviation sector, our government is keeping open key air channels to international markets," he said.