New airline routes opened up

By Grant Bradley

New Zealand has signed 10 new or amended air services agreements, opening up the possibility of more direct connections with countries ranging from Turkey to The Bahamas.

Cabinet today has approved the signing of new air services agreements with Israel, Mauritius, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama and Portugal.

Other arrangements negotiated include:

• A negotiation with Turkey to permit airlines from each country to commence services using their own aircraft, where previously airlines were only allowed to code-share. New arrangements allow the airlines to operate up to 14 passenger and seven cargo services per week.

• An amendment to New Zealand's 1967 Air Transport Agreement with France. This introduces new route opportunities for New Zealand and New Caledonia airlines.

• The negotiation of a code-share arrangement with The Bahamas.

"Air services agreements pave the way for airlines to operate new routes in and out of New Zealand, creating more links with the rest of the world," Transport Minister Simon Bridges said.

Turkey in particular offered strong potential.

"Allowing Turkish Airlines to fly here is an interesting opportunity. It's one of the fastest growing airlines in the world," said Bridges.

Turkish Airlines had previously scoped flights to Australia, often the way in which airlines introduce themselves to the New Zealand market.

Services to The Bahamas could through Air New Zealand flying to Houston and its code share partner United Airways flying on to the Caribbean.

Growing competition and increasing the number of available seats could be expected to drive down prices and give prospective visitors to New Zealand more choices.

Air services agreements pave the way for airlines to operate new routes in and out of New Zealand, creating more links with the rest of the world.

Code sharing allowed, Bridges said, more flights also allow for more high-value freight connections, and increasing regional connections to international flights creates more opportunities for provincial exporters.

Since 2012 about 50 agreements had been signed.

"Most of the major airlines in the world are now able to operate services to New Zealand without restriction.''

More than 70 air services agreements are in place with 17 new air routes announced in the past year.

The 10 new agreements and arrangements were negotiated at the International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference, held in Turkey last year. Although the agreements don't guarantee services will start, they are required to be in place before they do.

Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald