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Open Skies agreement good for exporters

The "Open Skies" aviation agreement between New Zealand and Australia would be of great benefit to exporters, Trade Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The agreement was signed today in Melbourne by Transport Minister Mark Gosche and Australian deputy prime minister and transport minister John Anderson.

Mr Sutton said the agreement had the potential to increase the number of flights between New Zealand and other countries that passed through Australia on the way, thus increasing the amount of cargo that could be carried.

Under current arrangements, only the equivalent of 12 747 flights across the Tasman Sea are allowed each week. The new agreement opens that up so that any Australasian airline can increase the number of its trans-Tasman flights.

Mr Sutton said anything that made it easier for exporters to get their products to markets had to be a good thing.

"New Zealand is a long way from our trading partners. Air cargo space is vital for time-sensitive goods to get to where customers are."

ENDS

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