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India to consider direct airlink to Auckland

New Delhi will consider establishing a direct airlink between India and New Zealand, with the possible extension of flights proposed to be operated to Australia, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi told Indian Newslink at his home office in New Delhi on June 27.

“New Zealand is a strategic partner for India and a good friend in the South Pacific region and as a natural extension of our growing relations, it is important to have direct airlink between the two countries. An airlink has become even more significant with the on-going negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement,” he said.

Mr Ravi said Air India will operate services between Delhi or Mumbai to Melbourne in Australia, gradually extending to other major cities including Sydney and Brisbane.

“While there is increasing traffic in this sector, shortage of aircraft has thus far precluded the airline to commence services to Australia. We hope this would become a reality soon,” he said.

India New Zealand Business Council Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony suggested to the Minister during the meeting that Air India could extend its flights to Melbourne, thereby benefiting passengers travelling to Auckland and India.

“The flight between Melbourne and Auckland would take no more than 3½ hours. Therefore, a service connecting Melbourne and Delhi or Mumbai via Auckland will prove to be popular. New Zealanders in general and people of Indian origin in particular, will patronise such a service. There is increasing demand for seats in the New Zealand-India sector,” he said.

Mr Ravi said that subject to approvals of the Australian and New Zealand Governments and civil aviation authorities, his Ministry would consider a proposal to introduce air services between Auckland and India.

Advice to students

Mr Ravi, who is also the Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, said that a number of private education provides in New Zealand were continuing to lure students from India on false promise of jobs and providing poor quality courses and programmes.

“Our students go aboard to acquire higher qualifications and return home to settle in better jobs and careers. Poor quality courses negate the purpose. It is time to regulate such establishments and safeguard the interests of our students. We will have to put in place a robust system which would not only provide our students proper information but also protect them from unscrupulous agents and education institutions,” he said.

Mr Ravi said his Ministry was also working to evolve a sound procedure to prevent the misuse of Indian workers going overseas on work permits or work visas.

“We cannot be silent spectators to their sufferings anymore,” he said.

Patton New Zealand Limited Chief Executive Sameer Handa, who also attended the meeting, said that his Company was enhancing its presence in India with the opening of a wholesale distribution centre in Jaipur and establishment of a manufacturing facility in the western part of the country.

“Our proposed factory, with an estimated investment of about $30 million in the first stage is likely to be located in Pune or Navi Mumbai. We look forward to working with the Central and State Governments to make the facility operational within our planned time framework,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Mr Anthony and Mr Handa were members of the Business Delegation that accompanied Prime Minister John Key to India from June 26 to 30, 2011. See related reports in this issue.

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