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What you need to know

The Civil Aviation Bill was developed following a review of the legislation in 2014. This page contains information about the Bill process, which ended with passage of the Civil Aviation Act 2023 on 5 April 2023. The new legislation comes into force on 5 April 2025.

The old legislation will be replaced from 2025

Until 5 April 2025, the Civil Aviation Act 1990 remains in force. The Airport Authorities Act 1966 will remain in force (with some amendments) for a further five years, until April 2030.

The Civil Aviation Act 1990 governs New Zealand’s civil aviation system and sets the overall framework for aviation safety, security and economic regulation.

The Airport Authorities Act 1966 gives airport authorities a range of functions and powers to establish and operate airports.

The Bill underwent several stages of consultation and parliamentary debate

The Civil Aviation Bill project responded to changes in the aviation industry and the government regulatory environment since the Acts came into effect. We consulted stakeholders in 2014 and again in 2019 when an exposure draft was published. We also consulted affected groups on specific policy changes throughout. We are grateful for all feedback received throughout this almost decade-long process.

The Civil Aviation Bill was considered by Parliament between late 2021 and early 2023. Information about that process, and copies of the Ministry’s advice and other submissions to the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee, are available on the Parliament website.

The 2023 Act contains policy changes that enhance the legislative framework

A number of policy changes were introduced through the Bill process (now reflected in the 2023 Act). Key changes include:

  • Strengthen the management of the risk of drug and alcohol impairment in the commercial aviation sector.
  • Set out the responsibilities for the operation of new and emerging technologies and provide new intervention powers to respond to the serious misuse of remotely piloted aircraft.
  • Introduce a process for aviation participants to seek independent review of decisions made by or on behalf of the Director of Civil Aviation (in addition to the existing process for decisions made on a medical basis).
  • Enable New Zealand to meet its obligations under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
  • Introduce a modern registration regime for airports (replacing the current Airport Authorities process) and, for some airports, a requirement called a regulatory airport spatial undertaking (RASU).
  • Empower the Minister of Transport to consider national security within the aviation system and make rules when national security considerations apply.
  • Expand the aviation security regime to enable short-term additional security measures in temporary “landside security areas” at airports when needed to respond to a heightened threat environment.

The Bill also amends or clarifies some policies from the current legislation including:

  • clarifying the powers, protections and tools that are available to aviation security officers at security designated aerodromes
  • improving the transparency and robustness of the process for authorising airline alliances.
  • changing the legislative requirements around airport price setting and when airports have to operate commercially
  • clarifying how the Public Works Act applies to land acquired for airport purposes
  • clarifying that the Disputes Tribunal is an avenue for passenger redress under provisions relating to consumer rights for delay or loss of baggage. 


The work to date

Mar 2023–Mar 2023

Civil Aviation Bill passes its third reading

The Civil Aviation Bill passed its third reading in March 2023.

More information
May 2019–Jul 2019

Exposure draft consulted on


NZIER Report, 9 June 2014 - Cross modal risk analysis of substance impairment

To support review and evaluation of impairment regulation across the transport sector, the Ministry commissioned a report to assess the relative risk of fatalities across transport modes, where alcohol and drug impairment are contributing factors in accidents.

More information and related documents
Nov 2014–Oct 2016

Replacement of Act approved

In October 2016, Cabinet agreed that a new Bill would be drafted, making a number of amendments to the current legislation.

More information and related documents

Acts reviewed and consulted on

The purpose of the review and consultation was to ensure the Acts were still fit for purpose, given the changes in the aviation sector and regulatory environment since they came into effect.

More information and related documents

Related work