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New Zealand will benefit from a number of new air services agreements that will allow greater connectivity between New Zealand and the rest of the world, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

Cabinet has recently approved the signing of four new air services agreements with Kenya, Botswana, the Dominican Republic and Guyana and an amended agreement with Italy.

“These agreements will further enhance New Zealand’s international air connectivity between Africa and the Americas, bringing both trade and tourism benefits.

“As an island nation, New Zealand relies heavily on its international air links. We’ll continue to build on these connections,” Mr Bridges says.

The new agreements were negotiated at the International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference, held in December 2016. The annual conference provides an opportunity for officials from various States to meet in one location, and negotiate multiple agreements over five days.

“Other successful negotiations to expand and enhance air services opportunities were conducted with Belize, Nicaragua, and Spain,” Mr Bridges says.

“Italian airline Alitalia has already made use of the new arrangements, adding Christchurch and Queenstown to its code-share network.

“New Zealand’s approach to liberalising air services has allowed for an open, competitive market, facilitating increased air traffic, lower air fares and stronger international trade links.

“I expect that further new air services opportunities will be announced during the course of this year,” Mr Bridges says.

International visitor arrivals set a new record in 2016 with 3.5 million for the year. This figure was up 12 percent on 2015.

New Zealand now has 61 air service agreements with other countries and territories.

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