An Air New Zealand cargo flight will depart Auckland for Shanghai tonight, marking the first airfreight service to Shanghai that will ensure priority goods continue to be available during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The first service, operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft, is scheduled to depart Auckland around midnight tonight (NZDT) carrying premium local export goods including honey and seafood.

Air New Zealand General Manager Cargo Rick Nelson says the airline is grateful for support from the New Zealand Government that will ensure key international airfreight links remain open to support the local economy.

“This is undoubtedly an extremely difficult time for our airline with a significant reduction in capacity due to reduced travel demand, but these services will ensure key goods such as medical supplies and food continue to flow in and out of New Zealand. We’re pleased to be able to keep New Zealand connected to the world in this way by working with our key cargo partners.”

The airline has also introduced a number of innovative measures to keep Kiwi businesses connected to the world, including offering cargo customers a range of aircraft charter services covering every port on the Air New Zealand network (excluding London), and introducing the concept of a ‘Multi Party Charter Agreement’, designed to help small and medium sized exporters and importers move their goods. This gives customers the option to purchase a single airfreight pallet position on a charter flight. Alternatively, by working together with a freight forwarder a coalition of exporters and importers can potentially combine and consolidate their shipments to purchase a single unit on the aircraft.