19 June 2020

Government Funding Assistance Package for Airlines

Sounds Air will receive government funding under a new package to keep essential transport networks alive. The top of the south airline is the first business to get support under the Essential Aviation Transport Connectivity package, in which $30 million has been allocated from the $600 million aviation relief package. There were concerns the airline would not get a cut of the aviation package, and a petition to 'Save Sounds Air' collected more than 43,000 signatures. Sounds Air chief executive Andrew Crawford said the funding was a "vote of confidence" in the airline and connectivity for the regions.The airline had been seeking Government support since New Zealand went into lockdown, but had so far only received the wage subsidy. The amount of the funding, which would not be disclosed, would contribute to costs and overheads, but was by no means the "be all and end all", Crawford said. "We fly to regions where Air New Zealand doesn't go. This is a critical lifeline to the community." Crawford said the Ministry of Transport undertook a "thorough process", and delved deep into the business and the regions to see what was required. The airline employs 65 people, including 26 pilots. It has 10 aircraft serving destinations in New Zealand that otherwise did not have an air link, such as Blenheim to Christchurch, Blenheim to Paraparaumu, Wellington to Westport and Wellington to Taupo. The move comes as the national carrier also announced today it is bracing for a $120 million loss this financial year. Sounds Air flew 115,000 customers last year. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said maintaining regional connectivity was vital for the wellbeing of New Zealanders and crucial for economic recovery. "This is for services which provide essential transport connectivity and would not continue without Government support. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said maintaining regional connectivity was vital. "Smaller airlines such as Sounds Air play an important role keeping our remote communities connected and I’m pleased to announce they are the first to receive support from this package," Twyford said. Funding from the package would support flights to the top of the south and West Coast, as well as from Wellington to Taupo. Under the terms of the support agreement, Sounds Air would fly 118 flights per week, providing links between Wellington-Blenheim, Wellington-Nelson, Blenheim-Christchurch, Wellington-Westport, and Wellington-Taupo.

1 comment:

  1. The funding is not going to create a market that's no longer there. Hopefully all the other operators will now get a taxpayer funded handout