The Philippines and New Zealand boost air and people-to-people connectivity
A significant milestone in Philippines-New Zealand air and people-to-people connectivity was achieved today through the signing of the Exchange of Letters on the amendment to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of New Zealand on Air Services done in Singapore on 20 November 2007 (“the 2007 Agreement”) and the Air Services Consultations on 05-06 March 2014 in Wellington. H.E. Virginia H. Benavidez, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand, and the Hon. Simon Bridges, Minister of Transport of New Zealand, signed the Exchange of Letters to confirm an amendment to the existing Air Services Agreement on 12 November 2014 at the Office of Minister Bridges in Parliament.
The amendment to the 2007 Agreement refers to third and fourth freedom code share between the Philippines and New Zealand via any one intermediate point to be nominated by the country designating the airline. The third country code sharing is an important part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concluded during the Air Services Consultations on 05-06 March 2014. It enables airlines to market indirect but more seamless service between the Philippines and New Zealand through cooperative agreements with airlines from third countries. Starting January 2015, Air New Zealand will code share with Singapore Airlines for flights to the Philippines.
The Filipino community in New Zealand is growing in strength and numbers. The total number of Filipinos now in New Zealand comprises 40,347 people or 1.0 percent of New Zealand’s total population. Filipinos rose as the third largest Asian ethnic group after the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups. “The Filipino population increased by 138.2 percent from 2006 to 2013 and we are heartened by this tremendous growth of the Filipino community in New Zealand for this will contribute greatly to the people-based relations between our two countries and will serve as an important base for our air connectivity efforts,” stated Ambassador Benavidez.
Tourism data show that more than 19,000 tourists from New Zealand visited the Philippines as their main overseas destination and nearly 14,000 Filipinos visited New Zealand as of September 2014. Minister Bridges stated that “the Philippines is an important friend and trading partner for New Zealand” with Filipinos “making a valuable contribution” to the New Zealand economy, including the rebuild in Christchurch, and improved air connections between the two countries will benefit both the Filipino community in New Zealand as well as New Zealanders wishing to visit the Philippines. Although there is no direct air service between the Philippines and New Zealand “the new code-sharing provision will help develop the market and build momentum towards possible direct flights in the future”, according to Minister Bridges.
The Exchange of Letters serves as a turning point in the Philippines-New Zealand people-based relations and the enhanced arrangements will serve as key enablers to greater trade, investment, tourism, economic and people-to-people linkages between the two countries.
Present at the signing ceremony were Philippine Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa, Mr. Ken Hopper, Adviser, Aviation and Maritime Group, Ministry of Transport, Ms. Bronwyn Lauten, Adviser, Ministry of Transport, Mr. Matthew de Wit, Policy Officer, Southeast Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms. Kelsie Wilkinson, Treaty Officer, Legal Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Mr. Jamie Gray, Private Secretary to the Minister.