The Government has extended support for the international aviation sector to maintain international passenger services, remain connected with important trade partners and support the economic recovery, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced on Friday.
"The Maintaining International Air Connectivity (MIAC) scheme was due to end on October 31, but we have extended it to March 31 to help with demand over the peak summer cargo season," Wood said.
"Extending the MIAC scheme gives us regular international air services for passengers and freight, and also protects our links to critical supplies like vaccines and medicines. It ensures we have the capability required for our businesses to tap into international markets and support our recovery."
The minister said since May 2020, temporary Government support has enabled more than 8800 flights carrying over 169,000 tonnes of airfreight worth around $13.5 billion.
During the same period, nearly 85,000 people have returned to New Zealand on supported flights - 45 percent of the total number of people to pass through MIQ facilities.
"When the pandemic first began, New Zealand could have been cut off from regular air services to the rest of the world. Even now, the number of passenger flights into New Zealand is only a quarter of its pre-COVID levels and many of those planes carry very few passengers, which shows how critical MIAC is for keeping us connected currently," Wood said.
"Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport is working with airlines to confirm the routes and services which will be supported over summer. I expect the exact schedule of services under the MIAC extension will be finalised over the coming weeks."
Wood said the Government will reduce the level of support it provides as the Reconnecting New Zealanders strategy is implemented and border restrictions begin to ease.
"We expect to be able to wind down the scheme and are beginning work on how we will make this transition in a way that provides certainty and ensures that critical freight continues to flow," Wood said.