India and NZ sign air services deal

India and NZ sign air services deal

An air services deal inked during Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee's visit to New Zealand is being hailed as a boost for tourism.

Mr Mukherjee arrived in the country yesterday and is due to fly out tomorrow.

Today he and Prime Minister John Key witnessed Transport Minister Simon Bridges sign an air services agreement with Sanjeev Balyan, India's minister of state for agriculture and farmer welfare.

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

"India is an emerging superpower, and its population of 1.25 billion people presents enormous opportunities for New Zealand," he said.

In the year to March 31, 2016, almost 52,000 Kiwis travelled to India and close to 60,000 Indians visited New Zealand.

"Today's signing will boost tourism, trade and personal ties between our two countries," Mr Bridges said.

It's the first state visit to New Zealand by an Indian president.

Today Mr Mukherjee laid a wreath at the Hall of Memories at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and held talks with Mr Key.

In 2011 Mr Key launched the NZ Inc India Strategy, a plan for India to become a core trade, economic and political partner.

Negotiations for a free-trade agreement with India started in April 2010 and the last round finished in February 2015.

More than $1 billion in goods were traded between the two countries in 2014, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

There are more than 160,000 people of Indian origin living in New Zealand.

NZN / Newshub.