New policy gives kiwis better global access

  • Gerry Brownlee

Cabinet has confirmed a new International Air Transport Policy Statement, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.

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

Under the policy New Zealand will continue to pursue reciprocal open skies agreements, except where it is not in its best interests. It will recognise the benefit to the country of new or additional services by foreign airlines, while ensuring New Zealand airlines have a fair and equal opportunity to compete.

“Over time, as new airlines enter the New Zealand market, this is likely to lead to more services and cheaper airfares,” Mr Brownlee says.

The policy was developed from a Ministry of Transport discussion document released by Mr Brownlee on May 21. This received 11 submissions, mainly from aviation and tourism industry groups.

Consultation saw several changes made to the policy. First, more emphasis has been given to increasing New Zealand’s connectivity to markets.

Second, the possibility of allowing for temporary air services in advance of negotiations has been further developed.

“As a result, new services to Christchurch will be favourably considered until June 2017,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The government has decided it is in New Zealand’s best interests to make it as easy as possible for airlines to offer services to and from Christchurch, helping tourism and other businesses recover from the 2010/2011 earthquakes.”

Third, New Zealand’s relationship with ASEAN has been noted as a priority. This builds on Cabinet’s earlier decision to focus on East Asia and South America as immediate priorities for negotiating new air service agreements.

“Successful negotiations have already been completed this year with Japan and China, and are currently underway with Brazil and French Polynesia,” Mr Brownlee says.

“We are also exploring negotiations with Thailand and Indonesia.”

The agreement concluded with China tripled the number of flights that can be operated between the two countries.

The policy confirms the removal of limits on foreign ownership of New Zealand airlines, with the exception of Air New Zealand.

“Changes to the ownership of Air New Zealand were not considered as part of this review,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The government remains committed to holding a majority share in Air New Zealand and the Kiwi-share controls in the company’s constitution will continue to take precedence over the change to general policy.”

Decisions on the future of the Crown’s ownership in Air New Zealand will be made in the context of the mixed ownership model.

The new policy is available on the Ministry of Transport’s website: