HON SIMON BRIDGES, MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
Few countries depend on international air services as much as New Zealand. Aviation facilitates tourism, business connections and trade. More than 99 percent of people arrive in New Zealand by plane, while airfreight is often the mode of choice for high value, time-sensitive exports.
International aviation relies on a complex system of bilateral and multilateral agreements. Countries trade approvals on the frequency, aircraft types and routes that can be flown, rights to land at specific airports, the ability to code-share with their own national airlines, and the ability to load and unload freight or passengers.
Given our reliance on international air links, the Government supports ‘open skies’ agreements, enabling airlines to travel freely to New Zealand, and advocates for New Zealand airlines to fly without restrictions to as many destinations as possible.
New Zealand now has negotiated air services arrangements with 86 partners. Over 50 new or amended agreements and arrangements have been negotiated since our international air transport policy was implemented in 2012 –– with many, though not all, of them meeting the open skies position.
Since I became Minister, a number of airlines have begun new services to New Zealand, opening up new opportunities for New Zealand travellers and exports around the globe.
Most of the major airlines in the world are able to operate services to New Zealand without restriction – and we only need to look at the tails on the ground in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown to see this growth.
New services do not just have a positive impact in our major centres but, thanks to code-sharing arrangements, provide a boost for regional economic development. Code-sharing takes people into New Zealand’s regional heartland, and has helped us develop one of the best domestic air networks in the world.
That’s one reason why the Government will continue to pursue open skies arrangements, and will maintain an ambitious schedule of air services negotiations through 2017.
For New Zealand-based airlines, this will mean a continued expansion of opportunities, while New Zealand will become a more attractive destination for airlines based overseas.
Ultimately, air services agreements underpin our tourism industry, connect us to friends and family overseas and take New Zealand exports to the world. They will continue to be one of the key ways that government can encourage economic and regional development
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