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Govt working to keep air freight moving - Phil Twyford

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown.

"The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key air freight channels remain open for high priority goods. We recognise how important it is to continue the flow of critical imports like medicine, and also support our exporters to ensure New Zealand is well-placed to respond to the recovery when it comes," Phil Twyford said.

"The rest of the world still want our food products like milk and meat. So it’s critical that part of the economy is able to continue exporting and keep employing New Zealanders during the lock down - maintaining freight services is essential to that.

"That is why $600 million was set aside for the aviation sector as part of the $12.1 billion COVID-19 support package," he said.

At this stage up to $330 million of the aviation support package will be allocated to:

- Ensuring air freight capacity is available on key routes for at least the next six months.

- Dealing with immediate risks and opportunities as they arise in the aviation sector.

Under the air freight capacity support package, airlines and other air freight businesses will be invited to submit proposals for the Government to provide financial support for them to deliver freight capacity on key routes. Proposals will need to cover how critical imports of medicines, medical supplies and high value exports will be prioritised, and prices to be charged.

There is also flexible funding available to respond to immediate risks and opportunities as they arise to retain capability and capacity in the aviation system.

Phil Twyford says he is already seeing great examples of the sector working collaboratively.

"And I expect this to continue. We also expect some of these proposals to include repatriation of passengers.

"The Government will do all it can to cushion the blow of COVID-19 on the economy. Ensuring our business can keep exporting our good, keep New Zealanders in work and keep earning money for the economy will be essential for our recovery," he said.

The request for proposals for the first round of the air freight support package will be released today, and decisions will be made within the next two weeks. Cabinet has also agreed to fast-track immediate funding to ensure urgent freight services are not disrupted.

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