Venkat Raman –
Auckland based India Trade Alliance (ITA) has welcomed the new Air Services Agreement signed by New Zealand and India saying that it had rallied for the pact with ministers and officials of both governments.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges and India’s Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Sasnjiv Balyan, inked the pact on behalf of their respective governments at Langham Hotel in Auckland on Sunday, May 1, 2016.
Prime Minister John Key and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee witnessed the signing ceremony terming it as ‘an important milestone in bilateral relations.’
As mentioned in our last issue, the Agreement was renewal of two earlier pacts signed by the two governments. The first was in 1996 and the second on May 2, 2006 in New Delhi by then then Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard of Labour government with the then Indian Civil Aviation Minister Prafel Patel of Congress Party.
In our report ten years ago (Indian Newslink, May 15, 2006), we had said, “Air New Zealand could fly to Indian destinations whenever it chooses, following a new landmark agreement. But unless either Air New Zealand or Air India announce plans to operate into each other’s destinations, the Agreement would remain only on paper, similar to an Air Services Agreement signed by the two countries in 1996.”
Mr Bridges said that New Zealand airlines now have the opportunity to codeshare to seven cities in India (Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi).
“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,” he said.
Most major airlines are now able to operate services to New Zealand without restriction, with 18 new air routes announced in the past year alone, he added.
ITA Chairman Giri Gupta said that the latest Agreement followed strong advocating from ITA on behalf of its member, Air New Zealand, with Air India Chairman & Managing Director Ashwani Lohari, and parliamentarians in India.
“These occurred during my visit to India between March 5 and March 12, 2016 with our General Secretary Sunil Kaushal and National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi,” he said.
Air New Zealand Head of Government and Industry Affairs Duncan Small said that the Agreement will enable the airline extensive codeshare connectivity between New Zealand and India on Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Silk Air and Air India.
“We recognise and thank the High Commissions in Wellington and Delhi, India New Zealand Business Council and India Trade Alliance for their efforts in achieving this significant milestone in the relationship of the two countries. Air New Zealand is a corporate member of ITA and we are pleased with this outcome,” he said.
ITA Deputy Chairman Dr Richard Worth said, “Our focus is on developing sound business between India and New Zealand for the benefit of our members through our networks in Auckland, Delhi and Mumbai.”
Mr Gupta said that the visit of Mr Mukherjee was timely and that his discussions with Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae and Mr Key would set the stage for high levels of bilateral trade and commerce.
“I was to happy to meet Mr Mukherjee along with Sir Jerry at the State Dinner held at Government House in Auckland on April 30, 2016,” he said.
- Giri Gupta in conversation with Pranab Mukherjee and Sir Jerry Mateparae at the Government House on April 30
- Air India Chairman and Managing Director with Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (right) and Sunil Kaushal at his Mumbai Office