Wellington, March 20 (IANS) Air New Zealand received NZ$900 million from the government on Friday, to bail the flag carrier out from crisis.
The government and Air New Zealand reached a debt funding agreement through commercial 24-month loan facilities of up to NZ$900 million, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Without this intervention, New Zealand was at risk of not having a national airline,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
Due to the disruption by the travel restrictions and border control measures by the New Zealand government and neighbouring countries, the airline has cut 85 per cent of its international flights and 70 per cent of its domestic capacity.
Overall flights decreased from 3,600 a week to less than 1,500 a week.
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said on Friday that the loan was the amount the airline requested and that he was confident that it would be enough to see the airline through a few tough months.
However, he warned that the airline industry would be changed by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The government owns 52 per cent of Air New Zealand.
New Zealand closed its borders to non-residents from Thursday in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19.
The government is working with Air New Zealand to ensure key services can be provided, including repatriation flights, maintaining critical cargo transport lines and having staff assist the health response.
There are currently 39 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.