India, New Zealand sign deal for direct flights

World Sunday 01/May/2016 19:57 PM
By: Times News Service
India, New Zealand sign deal for direct flights

Auckland: India and New Zealand on Sunday signed a deal that opens the door for direct flights between the two countries that could boost tourism and trade sectors.
The signing ceremony of the bilateral air services agreement was witnessed by visiting President Pranab Mukherjee and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. The air services agreement should also boost tourism and trade between New Zealand and world's second most populated nation, New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said.
Bridges signed the deal with Sanjeev Balyan, India's Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. Air New Zealand, Air India and Singapore Airlines are among the operators which have the potential to run such a direct service, New Zealand Herald reported.
Bridges said that New Zealand airlines now have the opportunity to code-share to seven Indian cities - Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. For code-sharing operations, India will have any point in New Zealand. As intermediate points, India can have Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok and any two points in Australia, according to the text of the agreement.
"India is an emerging superpower, and its population of 1.25 billion people presents enormous opportunities for New Zealand," the minister said.
"Our annual trade with India is worth more than 1 billion dollars. 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 signing will boost tourism, trade and personal ties between our two countries," he said. India New Zealand Business Council treasurer Bhav Dhillon said that getting a direct flight between the two countries would "change the paradigm" of both tourism and trade.
"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 Herald.
"Once's there a direct flight that will really change the paradigm in terms of tourism and trade, a direct flight reduces a lot of non-tariff barriers. We think a direct flight will solve a lot of issues on the trade front as well as on the tourism front." 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, the report said.
Addressing the business leaders of India-New Zealand Business Council here, Mukherjee invited them to India to contribute towards various programmes launched by the Indian Government.
"I am accompanied by a minister in the Government (Sajeev Balayan). I am also accompanied by Members of Parliament who represent the true character of Indian Parliament. They represent various regions and different political parties, truly reflecting our multi-party democratic system. "We take decisions in the Parliament after fierce debate and discussions but finally we decide. Though sometimes I jokingly tell my colleagues in Parliament that you are a bit noisy. But nonetheless if the process of dialogue, debate and discussion carry on...dissent is essential ingredient of the parliamentary system and without the dissent parliamentary system is dysfunctional.
"Parliament truly represents the character of these two (dissent and discussion)," he said. Highlighting various factors responsible for maintaining the economic growth of India, he said the country's economy is having a steady growth since the days of 1990's in terms of GDP, employment generation, inflationary control, balance of trading and also substantially reducing the rate of inflation.
"Current rate of growth is 7.2 per cent and the focus is that Indian economy is bound to grow at the rate of 8 to 10 per cent. It is because of the fact that certain new initiatives have been taken," he said.
He congratulated New Zealand for maintaining a steady economic growth despite hostile international trend of markets. In fact since the world economy collapse of 2008, world economy has never recovered full. Most of the developed economies are facing sluggish growth. Emerging economies like China, India, South Africa, Brazil and host of other countries have shown that G-8 countries no longer decide the fate of world economy, he said. The President expressed hope that the negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be completed soon and both countries will see increase in their bilateral trade. "I am returning satisfied as not only did I have the opportunity of sharing my perception with the leaders of this beautiful country....I am returning with the satisfaction of identifying a country which shares the common goal of development, progress, peace and prosperity of the humanity in its entirety," he said.