New Zealand opens skies to foreign airlines to boost trade, travel


WELLINGTON: New Zealand has ramped up international agreements to liberalise air services to encourage greater international trade and travel, Xinhua news agency quoted Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee as saying Thursday.

The Ministry of Transport had negotiated 15 agreements with other countries and regions in five days at the 2013 International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference held in Durban, South Africa in December, and more than 30 new or amended agreements had been negotiated since then.

“This government has a firm commitment to the extension and liberalisation of international air service agreements and has set a cracking pace in seeing them concluded,” Brownlee said in a statement on the signing of an air services agreement with Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs Gamini Lakshman Peiris in Auckland.

“These agreements help provide New Zealanders with better access to the world, making it easier to travel and do business internationally.”

Thursday’s agreement extended “fifth freedom” rights enabling airlines to offer flights from New Zealand to Sri Lanka and then on to other destinations, with tickets able to be sold for either or both sectors.

The government had approved 14 other agreements with nations, including Finland, Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Togo and Zambia.

“Ethiopia is becoming a travel hub in Africa. New Zealand has an embassy in Addis Ababa, where the African Union is also based,” said Brownlee.

“This agreement, along with an amendment to our agreement with South Africa, helps pave the way for stronger links in Africa. The amendment with South Africa has doubled passenger capacity to 14 services a week and added capacity for another seven freight services a week.”

The agreement with Saudi Arabia followed agreements announced in June last year with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, and underpinned the New Zealand government’s strategy to increase trade in the Arabian Gulf.

Amendments to agreements had also been made with Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden.

The agreement with Hong Kong removed all remaining restrictions on non-stop services between Hong Kong and New Zealand, while a memorandum of understanding on code-sharing had been reached with Mongolia.

“I look forward to continuing announcements of further agreements, particularly with other countries in Southeast Asia,” said Brownlee. –BERNAMA