New Zealand and India have signed a new air services agreement, potentially leading to the launch of direct flights between the two countries.
The deal was signed by New Zealand’s Transport Minister, Simon Bridges, and India’s Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Sanjeev Balyan, at the Langham Hotel Auckland on 1 May, in the presence on NZ Prime Minister John Key and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
According to the terms of the agreement, New Zealand airlines now have the opportunity to codeshare to seven Indian cities – Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. But the agreement also paves the way for airlines of both countries to operate direct flights between New Zealand and India.
“India is an emerging superpower, and its population of 1.25 billion people presents enormous opportunities for New Zealand,” Bridges was quoted saying by the NZ Herald. “Today’s signing will boost tourism, trade and personal ties between our two countries.”
And Bhav Dhillon, treasurer of the India-New Zealand Business Council, was reported saying that direct flights could “change the paradigm” of both tourism and trade between the two countries.
“We are very confident that there will be a very robust growth in tourist numbers from India to New Zealand once we have a direct flight between these two countries,” Dhillon told the newspaper. “We think a direct flight will solve a lot of issues on the trade front as well as on the tourism front.”
There are no direct flights currently operating between New Zealand and India, with most travellers having to transit in Australia or Singapore. In 2013, Air India resumed direct flights to Australia for the first time in 22 years.