A new deal between New Zealand and India should boost tourism and trade between the two countries, the government says. Transport Minister Simon Bridges on Sunday, May 1, signed a new air services agreement with Sanjiv Balyan, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare of India—the world’s second most populated nation. The ceremony at Auckland’s Langham Hotel was witnessed by Prime Minister John Key and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, who visited New Zealand last weekend.

“New Zealand airlines now have the opportunity to code-share to seven cities in India—Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi,” Bridges said.

“India is an emerging superpower and its population of 1.25 billion people presents enormous opportunities for New Zealand.

“Our annual trade with India is worth more than $1 billion. In the year to March 31, 2016, almost 52,000 Kiwis travelled to India and close to 60,000 Indians visited New Zealand. In addition, more than 160,000 people of Indian descent live here.

“Today’s (May 1) signing will boost tourism, trade and personal ties between our two countries,” Bridges said

Since the government’s air transport policy was introduced in 2012, Bridges said 50 new or amended air agreements had been negotiated, bringing the total to 78.

“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.

“Our success in negotiating Air Services Agreements is providing New Zealand access to a large wealth of benefits including tourism and trade. We’ll continue our efforts to grow and enhance these connections, making it easier for New Zealanders to travel and trade internationally.”

This comes as a welcome move for India Trade Alliance (ITA) who has been rallying with both governments for a while. The agreement follows strong advocating from ITA on behalf of its member, Air New Zealand, with Air India Chairman and Senior Member of Parliaments of India, during the recent visit on March 11 by ITA Chairman Giri Gupta and General Secretary Sunil Kaushal along with MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.

Duncan Small, Head of Government and Industry Affairs, Air NZ said, “Air New Zealand welcomes the signing of the Air Services Agreement, which will enable extensive codeshare connectivity between NZ and India on Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Silk Air and, of course, Air India. We recognise and thank the High Commissions in both, Wellington and New Delhi, the India NZ Business Council and the India Trade Alliance for their efforts in achieving this significant milestone in the India–NZ relationship. Air New Zealand are corporate members of ITA and are pleased with this outcome.”

<em>(Information on signing as provided by Hamish Fletcher—pool reporter)</em>

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Also read: <a href=”http://www.indiannewslink.co.nz/trade-alliance-says-air-agreement-was-its-advocacy/”>Trade Alliance says air agreement was its advocacy </a>