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What you need to know

The Civil Aviation Act 1990 governs New Zealand’s civil aviation system and sets the overall framework for aviation safety, security and economic regulation. The Airport Authorities Act 1966 gives airport authorities a range of functions and powers to establish and operate airports. The Acts have been amended several times, but not substantially revised.

The aviation industry and the government regulatory environment have changed since the Acts came into effect. In 2014 we reviewed the Acts to ensure they were still fit for purpose, and then consulted stakeholders. We used that feedback to draft a new Bill to replace the Acts and in 2019 we consulted on a draft of the Bill. Between September 2021 and April 2023, the Bill passed through the Parliamentary process, including being considered by the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee.

On 5 April 2023, the Civil Aviation Bill received Royal assent and became the Civil Aviation Act 2023. The new Act will be in force from 5 April 2025.

  • There’s a range of changes that the new Act will bring in, including: A new registration regime for airports, including a requirement for airports to consult on their spatial plans.
  • For Tier 1 airports, we’ll be bringing in the Regulatory Airport Spatial Undertakings outlined in the Bill.
  • Setting up the new independent review process function for decisions made by the Director of Civil Aviation.
  • Development of rules and guidance for drug and alcohol management plans that some operators will be required to prepare. These future plans will include providing random testing of those working in safety sensitive activities. 

We will also be working to realign the Civil Aviation Rules with the 2023 Act and make regulations necessary to support the civil aviation regulatory system.

Over the next 24 months, we will be working on the implementation of the Act, alongside our colleagues at the Civil Aviation Authority.

More information on the contents of the Civil Aviation Act 2023 can be found on the Parliament website.

The work to date

Apr 2023

Now the Bill has been enacted, what happens now?

The Civil Aviation Act 2023 received Royal assent on 5 April 2023.

The Act allows for 24 months of implementation work, and so is expected to commence from 5 April 2025.

For our aviation system users, nothing changes immediately – they will continue to operate as they currently do, under the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and Airport Authorities Act 1966, while the implementation work is underway. Once these Acts are repealed, and the new Act comes into force, users may be required to meet some of the new requirements.

We will be working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and our aviation sector colleagues to ensure a smooth transition.

More information
Mar 2023–Mar 2023

Civil Aviation Bill passes its third reading

The Civil Aviation Bill passed its third reading in March 2023.

More information
Sep 2021

The Civil Aviation Bill passes its first reading

Aug 2019

Participation in CORSIA reconfirmed

The Government reconfirmed the decision to participate in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) from 2021, and agreed to implement it through the Civil Aviation Bill.

More information and related documents
Jul 2019–Present

Reviewing submissions and making required amendments

We have worked through submissions on the draft Bill and are now making amendments to prepare the Bill for introduction.

More information
May 2019–Jul 2019

Exposure draft consulted on

Cabinet agreed to release a draft of the Bill to the aviation industry for consultation. The draft Bill was released alongside a commentary document highlighting the main changes.

More information and related documents
Oct 2016–Present

Drafting new Bill

We are working with the Parliamentary Counsel Office to draft a Bill incorporating decisions made by Cabinet.

More information

NZIER Report, 9 June 2014 - Cross modal risk analysis of substance impairment

To support review and evaluation of impairment regulation across the transport sector, the Ministry commissioned a report to assess the relative risk of fatalities across transport modes, where alcohol and drug impairment are contributing factors in accidents.

More information and related documents
Nov 2014–Oct 2016

Replacement of Act approved

In October 2016, Cabinet agreed that a new Bill would be drafted, making a number of amendments to the current legislation.

More information and related documents

Acts reviewed and consulted on

The purpose of the review and consultation was to ensure the Acts were still fit for purpose, given the changes in the aviation sector and regulatory environment since they came into effect.

More information and related documents

Related work