Air New Zealand will claim up to $180 million from the government’s $250m extension to cargo support scheme to help maintain air freight capacity through the covid-19 pandemic.

The national carrier said it has gained a 12-month extension on the government’s maintaining international air connectivity (MIAC) scheme from April 1, which helps “keep New Zealand connected to its global trade partners and allows for essential international travel to continue while international borders remain effectively closed”.

Air NZ said the subsidy supports some 60 flights per week to destinations including Los Angeles, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Shanghai and key Pacific Islands and Australian ports. The initial scheme helped the airline keep about 65 flights a week in the air.

The airline said it received $182m in the final six months of 2021.

Transport minister Michael Wood announced the extension earlier this month, saying it would “protect” the links NZ had with the rest of the world and “keep trade flowing”.

The government provided a $1.24 billion credit line to the national carrier to keep it running through the pandemic, of which Air NZ had drawn down $760m.

The airline is expected to announce plans to raise about $1.1b of new equity this week, the bulk of which will go towards repaying those government loans.

The company's shares rose 1.1% to $1.405 in early trading on the NZX.