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Gerry Brownlee

27 June, 2013

New air agreements underpin Gulf strategy

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee today welcomed the Foreign Affairs Minister’s launch of the NZ Inc Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategy in Auckland.

“A cornerstone of the strategy is the high quality, liberalising air services agreements reached recently with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Kuwait,” Mr Brownlee said.

“These open skies agreements pave the way for more direct flights to and from the GCC region.

“The agreements also have the potential to improve New Zealand’s connectivity with Europe and Africa through the GCC. Both Emirates and Qatar Airways are fast-growing airlines that fly to multiple destinations, in many cases bypassing congested hubs. Etihad Airways and Air New Zealand have a code-sharing arrangement.

“Emirates has made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s air linkages since its entry into New Zealand in 2003. I particularly welcome the commitment Emirates has shown to Christchurch since the earthquakes. And from October 1, it will introduce a third daily A380 service to Auckland.”

The education initiatives in the GCC strategy should increase student air travel, and that of their families, to New Zealand. The GCC is New Zealand’s seventh largest education market. The strategy’s high value export initiatives should also increase demand for air freight capacity.

The new Kuwait and amended UAE agreements were concluded at the week-long International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in December 2012, where Ministry of Transport officials negotiated seven new or amended agreements.

The Qatar agreement is pending Cabinet approval. The Kuwait and UAE agreements have been authorised by Cabinet and are awaiting signing.

Mr Brownlee said the agreements – along with one with Brazil announced in March – show that the government is working quickly to implement its new International Air Transport Policy announced in August last year.

“The policy aims to grow the economy by providing New Zealanders with better access to the world and helping increase trade in goods and tourism, and other services.”

The new policy places more emphasis on increasing New Zealand’s connectivity to markets.

“In coming months, I expect to be able to announce further agreements with countries in Europe, South East Asia and South America.”