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King welcomes prospect of open aviation with EU

King welcomes prospect of open aviation negotiations with European Union

Transport Minister Annette King has welcomed news today that New Zealand and the European Union (EU) can now enter into negotiations on a comprehensive air services agreement, following a decision by the European Council of Ministers.

The two sides had previously signed an Agreement in June 2006 that recognised airlines on the basis of their EU status, rather than on the nationality of a particular Member State. New Zealand can now proceed and negotiate a full air services agreement covering all EU Member States.

"We look forward to continuing this process of moving to an open aviation market in the spirit of liberalisation that has characterised New Zealand's air services policy for many years," Ms King said.

"With many New Zealanders having family in Europe, a large number of Europeans having migrated here, and our strong cultural ties, maintaining strong air links between New Zealand and Europe is vital.

"Air services underpin the people and trade movements that are integral to the New Zealand-Europe relationship and we welcome the prospect of expanding the opportunities available for air carriers and for travellers and traders."

In the year ended March 2008, more than 490,000 visitors from the EU visited New Zealand, and 166,000 New Zealand tourists departed with a point in the EU as their main destination. In 2007, 26 percent of New Zealand's imports by value from the EU moved by air, and 11 percent of exports to the EU went by air.

"A new agreement would create further opportunities for airlines from Europe and New Zealand to better compete with carriers from third countries that currently dominate the air routes," Ms King said.

"We look forward to developing a comprehensive air services agreement with the EU which will cover all 27 member states and replace the 12 air services agreements with member states we already have in place."


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