The $12.1 billion COVID-19 support package announced by the Minister of Finance in March 2020 included a $600 million initial aviation support package. Cabinet allocated up to $330m for two measures to be administered by the Ministry of Transport and NZTE is also providing support to exporters. 

International Air Freight Capacity (IAFC) Scheme

The International Airfreight Capacity (IAFC) scheme adds capacity to maintain trade links with global markets, to enable essential imports such as medical supplies and for high value export cargo.

The $330m scheme provides financial support for international airfreight carriers to guarantee airfreight capacity on key routes with airline and carrier agreements.

The scheme launched in May with an initial schedule of 53 weekly flights from New Zealand to key export destinations. In response to demand from the business community, the schedule has since grown to support 70 weekly flights as at the beginning of August. This represents about half of all the international flights flown from New Zealand each week.

The Government has agreed to extend IAFC support agreements which were set to expire by the end of August. The support agreements are now expected to be in place until the end of November 2020.

Airlines and freight carriers receiving support from the IAFC scheme are; Air New Zealand, China Airlines, China Southern, Emirates, Freightways, Qantas and Tasman Cargo.

The IAFC scheme ensures key international trade links remain open for business at a time when border restrictions remain in place and passenger air travel is limited.

Airfreight connectivity is critical to maintain trade links with global markets, to enable essential imports such as medical supplies and PPE, and ensure high value exports reach global markets.

The scheme not only supports the international movement of air freight, but also ensures people can enter and leave New Zealand.

Successful applicants and routes are listed below. For more detail about these routes, contact your preferred freight forwarder or see the NZ Trade and Enterprise website.(external link)

Provider Route Flights per week
China Airlines Auckland – Taipei – Auckland 4
Emirates  Dubai – Bangkok - Auckland - Brisbane - Dubai 3
Dubai – Sydney - Christchurch – Sydney - Dubai 1
Freightways  Auckland - Christchurch – Melbourne - Auckland 3
Auckland – Christchurch - Sydney - Auckland 1
Auckland – Sydney – Auckland 2
Tasman Cargo Auckland – Sydney – Auckland 1
Air New Zealand Auckland – Shanghai – Auckland 5
Auckland – Hong Kong – Auckland 4
Auckland – Narita – Auckland 2
Auckland – Incheon –Auckland 1
Auckland – Sydney – Auckland 7
Auckland – Melbourne – Auckland 9
Auckland – Brisbane – Auckland 4
Auckland – Los Angeles – Auckland 10
Auckland – San Francisco – Auckland 4
Auckland – Rarotonga – Auckland 1
Auckland – Nadi – Auckland 1
Auckland – Apia – Auckland 1
Auckland – Tonga – Auckland 1
Auckland – Niue – Auckland 1
Qantas Christchurch – Sydney – Christchurch 2
China Southern Auckland – Quangzhou – Auckland 2
Total     70

Due to airspace restrictions, Air NZ has some constraints operating to destinations in the Pacific Islands. Pacific Island routes will be funded under specific criteria reflecting how these routes support wider regional objectives.

Phase 1 procurement documents

RFP for International Air Freight Capacity [PDF, 893 KB]

RFP for International Air Freight Capacity Addendum [PDF, 619 KB] 

International Air Freight Capacity RFP: Response to common questions [PDF, 465 KB] 

International RFP Response Form [DOCX, 115 KB]

[DRAFT] Grant Funding Agreement [PDF, 816 KB]

International Air Freight Capacity RFP Comparison of Terms and Conditions [PDF, 544 KB]

Subsequent phases

The process for subsequent phases is still being developed. We are closely monitoring the international airfreight market, and will respond based on how the COVID-19 response evolves.

Please email if you have any questions about the scheme.


Essential Transport Connectivity (ETC) Scheme 

Maintaining a network that delivers effective regional connectivity is vital for New Zealand's social and economic wellbeing, and is critical for the COVID-19 recovery.

The Essential Transport Connectivity (ETC) scheme provides support for transport providers over the short to medium term. The goal of the ETC scheme is to ensure capacity, regional connectivity and essential services are maintained in the wake of COVID-19.

Applications for ETC funding support are considered on a case by case basis. At a high level, applicants are expected to meet the following:

  • Have exhausted all other sources of funding support (including Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Package, bank loans, support from shareholders etc.).
  • Taken all available and reasonable operational and commercial measures to ride-out the impact of COVID-19 and/or right-size.
  • Requirements for one of the categories in the table below (airports/airlines, aviation support services, non-aviation services).

Airports and airlines

Be able to show they support regional connectivity and are key to the recovery of domestic and/or international aviation.

Aviation support services

Be able to show they are essential to the aviation sector and that without it, the operation and recovery of the aviation system would be significantly impeded.

Non-aviation services

Meet at least one of the following:

  • support economic activity, including maintaining the core transport network and/or critical supply chain
  • support inclusive access including enabling all people to access social and economic opportunities
  • the service is critical for emergency and resilience purposes.

As well as both of the following:

  • No substitutable service now or in the short term
  • If the service fails, there is low probability of a market resolution within a reasonable timeframe

Generally, taxi companies, rental car companies, tourism operators, and aviation operators who do not run scheduled services will not be eligible. Tourism operators may be eligible for MBIE’s tourism recovery package(external link).

More information

For more information, including to request details on the application process and/or a copy of the application form, email

Dealing with other immediate risks and opportunities in the air freight sector as they arise

Alongside the International Air Freight Capacity scheme, Cabinet authorised funding to be released to respond to urgent and immediate risks and opportunities to support the air freight sector. These are considered on a case by case basis, where there is a high degree of urgency and a strong case for government intervention. Enquiries for access to this funding should be made through   

NZTE support for immediate export requirements

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is supporting co-ordination of some additional flights to deliver freight capacity. For more information see the NZ Trade and Enterprise website(external link) or contact