Cabinet confirmed a new International Air Transport Policy Statement on 30 August aimed at growing the economy by providing New Zealanders with better access to the world and facilitating increased trade in goods and services. The Ministry of Transport developed the policy statement, based on proposals in a discussion document released in May 2012 and feedback received from stakeholders.
The international air transport policy sets out the framework for the negotiation and implementation of air services agreements (a list of New Zealand’s agreements is available here), which facilitate international air services. A liberal air transport policy was set in 1985, updated and reaffirmed in 1998, and followed by successive governments.
Since 1998, the aviation industry has been subject to a number of shocks, including terrorism, pandemics, global and regional financial crises, and fluctuating oil prices. In response, airlines have adopted new business models. A wide range of stakeholders (particularly international airports) are taking a more active interest in the implementation of the policy. At the same time, while some new tourism markets such as China and India are growing rapidly, established markets, with the exception of Australia, have stalled or are in decline and overall earnings from tourism fell in 2010.
The review considered a number of issues (set out in the discussion document) such as the overall objectives of the policy, foreign ownership limits on New Zealand airlines (with the exception of Air New Zealand), and the priorities for the forward negotiating programme. Changes to the ownership of Air New Zealand were not considered as part of the review. The government remains committed to holding a majority share in Air New Zealand. The discussion document is available here [PDF, 869 KB].
As a result of consultation on the discussion document, the following changes to the policy were made:
- the objective now places greater emphasis on the larger goal of growing the economy
- there is an increased recognition of the desirability of increasing New Zealand’s connectivity (rather than only focusing on the size of end-to-end markets)
- the possibility of allowing for services in advance of the necessary negotiations, raised in the consultation document, has been further developed
- under this, new services to Christchurch would be favourably considered, to assist with recovery from the 2010/11 earthquakes
- the policy sets out New Zealand’s intention to include a framework for cooperation between civil aviation authorities in air services agreements and arrangements. This has already been done in recent negotiations with China
- the role of the wider aviation industry has been recognised
- ASEAN has been noted as a particular priority for agreements in the multilateral arena.