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NZ To Liberalize Aviation Industry

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

29 May 2012

New Zealand's government has launched a review of its international air transport policy, and proposes removing limits on foreign ownership of the country's airlines, the continued pursuit of open skies agreements, and the negotiation of new air services agreements.

The plans are detailed in a discussion document, released by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee. He said: “New Zealand’s international air transport policy sets out the overall framework for how we negotiate and implement air services agreements with other countries and is a vital part of enabling economic growth. Although good progress has been made in removing barriers to New Zealand’s international air services, it is 14 years since the policy was last reviewed and much has changed in this dynamic sector during this time.”

The government proposes removing limits on foreign ownership of New Zealand airlines. The limits are currently set at 25% ownership by any one foreign airline, or 35% by foreign airlines in total, with the exception of Air New Zealand. Brownlee was clear that the government is committed to holding a majority share in Air New Zealand, and that the ownership of the company is not up for consideration in the review.

The review also sets out the government's negotiating priorities. New air services agreement negotiations will focus on East Asia and South America, with talks currently underway with Brazil and French Polynesia. The government will continue to pursue reciprocal open skies agreements, except where it is not in New Zealand's best interests. In pursuing such agreements, the government's policy will be to recognize the benefit to the country of new or additional services by foreign airlines, while ensuring New Zealand airlines have a fair and equal opportunity to compete. Inter-government agreements will also continue to be sought, with liberalized investment criteria, provided certain criteria are met.

According to Brownlee, the policy "will help develop the economy and increase business and travel opportunities for New Zealanders...This is a timely review and I encourage all interested parties to make a submission so their views can be heard.” Submissions to the government close on June 18.

TAGS: business | French Polynesia | law | aviation | agreements | Brazil | New Zealand | services

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