WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ Air New Zealand Ltd. has agreed to acquire half of Australian airline Ansett Holdings Ltd. for 540 million New Zealand dollars ($373 million).

The share of Ansett will be purchased from TNT Ltd., a cargo company. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns the other half of Ansett.

The acquisition, announced Monday, comes as the New Zealand and Australian governments are working toward developing a single aviation market for the two countries. Ansett is Australia's second-largest carrier.

John Bradbury, a New Zealand transport official, said he hopes the governments will announce within a week a single market to take effect from Nov. 1.

A single market was set to be created almost two years ago, but the Australian government backed out just two days before it was to take effect.

Air New Zealand's chairman, Bob Matthews, said the combination will help increase tourism to the area, which represents less than 3 percent of the world travel market.

New Zealand's Brierley Investments Ltd., which has a 42.5 percent stake in Air New Zealand, has already said it would vote in favor of the acquisition.

Other Air New Zealand shareholders needed to give approval include Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd., which owns 18.9 percent.

To satisfy regulatory requirements, 51 percent of Ansett's international unit will be sold to a consortium of Australian institutional investors.

Ansett flies within Australia, New New Zealand and also flies some routes to Asia.

Air New Zealand serves more than 50 destinations in 20 countries.