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India, New Zealand sign pact for direct flights

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.
PTI

PTI

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