The New Zealand government announced on Friday that it will give up to NZD 900 million (USD 515 million or EUR 483 million) in aid to Air New Zealand due to the crisis caused by COVID-19, which has led to the closure of borders and travel restrictions worldwide.
The package, which includes a debt financing agreement through loan facilities for 24 months up to NZD 900 million, seeks to ensure that the airline continues to operate on essential routes and continues to provide services.
“Without this intervention, New Zealand would risk not having a national airline,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement, recalling that the government has a 52 percent stake in the airline.
The measure comes a day after Australia and New Zealand announced the closure of their borders to all foreigners, except for those who have citizenship, residence or are close relatives of them.
Both countries have also prohibited the departure of their citizens abroad, in addition to imposing since last weekend the mandatory confinement for 14 days of all persons entering the country.
In Australia, which has given airlines aid of AUD 715 million (USD 415 million or EUR 388 million), more than 700 people have been infected with COVID-19, of which seven have died, while New Zealand has about 40 cases.
Experts in the airline sector have warned that the crisis due to the new coronavirus can cause the bankruptcy of a large part of the world’s airlines due to cancellations and travel restrictions.