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India-NZ air link agreement could spur nonstop flights

India is a glaring omission from Air New Zealand's network.

Nevil Gibson
Mon, 02 May 2016

Further encouragement for airlines to establish direct nonstop flights from India has been made with an extended air services agreement.

India is a glaring omission from Air New Zealand’s network, given India is the fastest rising Asian destination for New Zealand travellers.

Departures in the year to March rose 17.6% to nearly 52,000. In the same period, 42,500 Indians visited New Zealand. These figures are much greater than, say, Malaysia, which has two daily air links.

India is also the largest source of foreign students in New Zealand as well as having a population of 1.2 billion.

The agreement, signed by Transport Minister  Simon Bridges and India’s Minister for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Sanjeev Balyan, extends codeshare agreements to seven cities – Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi.

The agreement was witnessed by Prime Minister John Key and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee during his official visit at the weekend.

Canada forges nonstop flights
Air Canada last week announced it would be flying from Vancouver to Delhi direct with Boeing 787-9s, the same aircraft as Air New Zealand. This is in addition to a direct Toronto to Delhi launched late last year.

Like Canada, New Zealand also has a large Indian-descended population of more than 160,000, many more than the Philippines, which already has a new airlink and is soon getting a direct nonstop one from Air New Zealand.

At present, travellers to India have to travel through Australia or hubs such as Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Mr Bridges says the agreement will boost tourism, trade and personal ties though no airline has indicated any public interest in the route despite the government freeing up air links.
“Since the policy was implemented in 2012 more than 50 new or amended air agreements have been negotiated, bringing the total to 78,” he says

“Most of the major airlines in the world are now able to operate services to New Zealand without restriction, with 18 new air routes announced in the past year alone.”

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Nevil Gibson
Mon, 02 May 2016
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India-NZ air link agreement could spur nonstop flights