Aviation and Aerospace to New Zealand

Trends and opportunities

The market

The aviation market in New Zealand has been dominated by record passenger numbers and the further development of new technologies such as global satellite navigation systems. This has led to a demand to increase the capacity of existing aviation infrastructure in services and for training.

The increased demand from a large and growing tourism sector in New Zealand has encouraged local and global airlines to expand their flight capacity. This has translated into opportunities in passenger screening, airline training, and increased manufacture, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.

Increased demand has placed pressure on existing infrastructure to cope and as a response New Zealand airports are undergoing infrastructure upgrades.

New Zealand has a growing aircraft manufacturing and repair services industry which is expected to continue to grow particularly from airlines as tourist activity grows.

New Zealand’s emerging space industry wants to attract international entrepreneurs, researchers, businesses and investors interested in advancing space-based data applied to agri-technology, hazard management, oceanography and meteorology.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the regulatory aviation authority in New Zealand. Anyone setting up an aviation business in New Zealand, whether large or small, needs CAA approval to operate. (Source: Civil Aviation Authority)

Under the Closer Economic Relationship between Australia and New Zealand the Trans-Tasman Mutual recognition Act 1997 (TTMRA), New Zealand and Australia have agreed to recognise each other’s professional flight crew and aircraft maintenance engineer licences making market entry easier.(Source: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

New Zealand is a world-class tourist destination and is experiencing an increased demand for both inbound and outbound flight services. 3.8 million International visitors came to New Zealand in the year ending October 2018, compared to New Zealand’s domestic population of 4.9 million. (Source: Statistics New Zealand)

As a consequence of increasing tourist flows, existing infrastructure has been put under pressure and New Zealand airports are undergoing infrastructure upgrades. In 2014 Auckland Airport announced a 30-year vision to build the airport of the future. In 2017, NZ$1.8 billion will be invested in an airport upgrade and expansion over 2018 to 2022 on projects to accommodate the growing passenger and flight demand. (Source: Auckland Airport) The first phase of a NZ$12.7 million upgrade for Tauranga Airport is almost finished and Rotorua Airport upgrade has commenced to redesign the airport terminals and to upgrade security valued at NZ$4.4 million.

The Aircraft Manufacturing and Repair Services industry has expanded over the past five years with a revenue in 2017 to 2018 of NZ$1.4 billion. (Source: Ibis World Industry Report, February 2018) Industry players provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for major airlines, private aircraft owners and the New Zealand Defence Force. Civilian and military ab-initio trainers, short take-off and landing (STOL) utility aircraft, micro-light kits, sports aircraft and gliders are all manufactured in New Zealand.

The international aviation security environment has continued to evolve. New Zealand’s geographic isolation is not seen as a means of protection and a focus on improving security processes is ongoing. The industry objective to ensure New Zealanders benefit from a globally connected safe and secure aviation system has seen improved security processes at airports and an upgrade of screening equipment.

New Zealand is working through a 10 year plan to modernise its airspace and navigation systems using global satellite systems.

The plan is due for completion in 2023. Using the New Zealand and Australia Science and Innovation Agreement, New Zealand has been pursuing opportunities to trial second generation Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the delivery of high integrity positioning, navigation and timing data. SBAS uses space and ground-based infrastructure to improve the accuracy, integrity and availability of signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems like GPS. The testing will allow the region to explore the link between precise positioning, productivity and innovation in a number of distinct sectors including aviation. The testing will add world leading technology know-how and GNSS expertise to both Australia and New Zealand. (Source: Civil Aviation Authority)

In 2018, New Zealand released the Strategic Defence Policy Statement which outlines the role of the New Zealand Defence Force and key capability priorities. This includes identifying replacements for C-130 and Boeing 757 transport aircraft and acquiring the P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft. New Zealand is also currently completing a Defence Capability Plan review that will present options on planned investments in defence capabilities out to 2035. Australia’s proximity to New Zealand, close industrial linkages and the emphasis of New Zealand on maintaining interoperability with Australia may provide opportunities for Australian businesses to participate in these capability renewals.(Source: New Zealand Ministry of Defence).

New Zealand’s space program is an emerging industry backed by government and regulated.

The New Zealand Space Agency was formed in April 2016 to capitalise on this innovative sector and nourish its growth. New Zealand’s regulatory regime governing outer space and high-altitude activities is informed by international best practice, and has been developed to meet the requirements of this emerging industry. The regime is future-proofed to be flexible and pragmatic enough to respond to rapid advances in space technologies, space applications and related market demand. New Zealand is one of the first countries to develop laws covering non-rocket propelled activity in high altitudes, such as balloons and local laws minimise unnecessary prescription, by including detailed requirements in regulation. Compliance costs are also minimised, by enabling overseas licences to satisfy New Zealand requirements. (Source: New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

Rocket Lab is a major American aerospace manufacturer with a wholly owned New Zealand subsidiary. The company develops lightweight, cost-effective commercial rocket launch services and offers the world’s only private orbital launch range at Mahia, New Zealand. Their Federal Aviation Administration-compliant site can accommodate a launch rate of 120 flights per year and is licensed for a launch to occur every 72 hours for the next 30 years. From the site, as with other locations in New Zealand, it is possible to reach a wide range of unique orbital inclinations. This enables a lower-cost launch option.

There is also a Government-funded Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) based in Alexandra which has plans to develop satellite data products to drive regional economic growth. Regional Research Institutes are new, private research organisations operating in the regions to stimulate leading edge, commercially focussed research. This Centre for Space Science Technology in Alexandra is one of them. NASA’s super-pressure balloon programme also launches from Wanaka in the South Island. (Source: New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)

New Zealand’s clear skies with low pollution and low congestion has seen an increase in the number of pilot schools. The global shortage of pilots has been recognised and the New Zealand Government has announced several regional initiatives to inject funding to assist schools to set up.


The increase in tourists visiting New Zealand has encouraged local and global airlines to expand their flight capacity. Australia accounts for the highest number of tourism arrivals into New Zealand. This increased demand translates into opportunities –

A boosted demand for MRO services from major airlines with a flow-on effect in increased demand from smaller aircraft operators. This sector requires a highly skilled workforce and access to latest available technology and techniques.

Infrastructure opportunities with the refurbishment and fitouts of New Zealand airports.

The shortage of pilots in New Zealand has been compounded by pilots retiring. Flying schools are wanting experienced training staff as senior instructors are being headhunted by major airlines. Flying schools have long been a recruitment pipeline for airlines but the increased exodus of experienced staff is restricting capacity as demand for pilot training is growing.

New Zealand’s space program wants to attract international entrepreneurs, researchers, businesses and investors interested in advancing areas where New Zealand has existing strengths – space-based data applied to agricultural technology, hazard management, oceanography and meteorology. This interest also extends to unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for commercial and recreational use.

Opportunities in defence will emerge as New Zealand continues to modernise their defence capabilities. In particular New Zealand has:

Announced they would be acquiring four P-8A Poseidon aircraft under Foreign Military Sales directly from the US. Australia’s acquisition of the P-8A may provide opportunities for Australian companies to contribute to related infrastructure, supply chain or sustainment opportunities.

Reserved NZ$300 million to enable the purchase of other types of aircraft or surveillance products such as unmanned aircraft to complement the information picture that they will get from the P-8A Poseidon.

Commenced the process to look for a replacement for the C-130 and Boeing 757 transport aircraft. Opportunities may exist for Australian companies once a decision has been made.

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of New Zealand oversees aviation safety and the rules underpinning it. To operate within the aviation system, an individual or organisation must be granted an aviation document by the CAA. Anyone setting up an aviation business in New Zealand, needs CAA approval to operate. For an individual, this means having the correct training and experience. For an organisation, it means demonstrating its operations are managed and controlled in a way that ensures all of the relevant rule requirements are met. Once the CAA is satisfied the appropriate aviation document is then issued and the individual or organisation can become part of the New Zealand civil aviation system. (Source: Ibis World Industry Report, February 2018)

Aircraft manufacturers face high capital requirements, a significant initial investment in facilities and engineering expertise. Aircraft maintenance and engineering services require technical knowledge and entry is easier for small scale operators in regional areas. Competition is less intense among manufacturers of small, private-use aircraft.

Under the Closer Economic Relationship sub agreement – the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 (TTMRA), New Zealand and Australia have agreed to recognise each other’s professional flight crew and aircraft maintenance engineer licences. This means that holders of a current Australian Commercial Pilot Licence or Airline Transport Licence are eligible to register under the TTMRA and be issued with an equivalent New Zealand licence. Holders of current Australian command instrument ratings, command type endorsements or agricultural ratings may also have the appropriate equivalent New Zealand ratings during the registration process. (Source: Civil Aviation Authority)

All New Zealand government tenders are gazetted on the Government Electronic Tenders Website www.gets.govt.nz. Government tenders are open equally to New Zealand and Australian companies – under the CER trade agreement.

Collaboration with a local company is a good market entry strategy.

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority has a database of industry contacts which is a good start to scope contacts in the market.

Austrade Auckland can provide a market assessment to outline opportunities for your product or service. The assessment includes recommended next steps. Austrade Auckland is well connected in the market and can make introductions to companies interested in meeting with you.

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