Government support for the aviation sector will be extended to ensure regular air freight services continue and the country stays connected with trade partners.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said another $170 million will be set aside for the sector until the end of October, drawn from the Covid-19 support package.
When the borders closed last year, the government allocated $372m to airfreight connectivity for the International Airfreight Capacity (IAFC) scheme.
"International air travel essentially shut down as the virus 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 necessary."
He said government support had enabled over 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 a critical lifeline for our Pacific partners - providing flights to Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Niue.
He said the scheme was changing to reflect the recovery phase of the pandemic 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 Covid-19 support package in March last year.
Existing support agreements with airlines and carriers under the IAFC scheme are due to expire at the end of April.
The Ministry of Transport is seeking new proposals for the MIAC scheme.