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Indonesia's Garuda may resume flights to NZ

Published: 4:34PM Monday April 16, 2012 Source: BusinessDesk/ONE News

Garuda Indonesia may resume flights between New Zealand and the Southeast Asian nation after a six-year hiatus, according to Auckland International Airport.

 Prime Minister John Key hopes Garuda's direct flight plans will be a boost for tourism and trade for New Zealand.

"I'm keen to encourage development of our tourism and I think there is massive potential between Indonesia and New Zealand," he said.

Auckland International Airport signed a memorandum of understanding with Garuda in a ceremony timed to coincide with the three-day trade mission led by Key.

It was signed by Auckland Airport chairwoman Joan Withers and Garuda chief executive Emirsyah Satar in Jakarta today, according to a statement from the airport company. Under the MOU, Auckland would be the first New Zealand port of call.

Air New Zealand is also set to fly direct to Bali in June.

Tourism New Zealand has welcomed plans to begin direct services to Auckland.

"A new carrier into New Zealand offers the tourism industry an opportunity to attract greater number of Indonesians in coming years," Tourism New Zealand's chief executive Kevin Bowler said.

Bowler said Tourism NZ is keen to create greater tourism value for the country through commercial connections with the world's fastest growing markets, particularly Asia and the Americas.

"It's a very competitive endeavour though; the growth won't just show up on our door-step, we have to chase it to gain and secure a foothold and we have to differentiate ourselves from the global competition."

A New Zealand company dealing in airport baggage handling systems also wants to expand in Indonesia. 

BCS Group already has four contracts in the south-east Asian nation and 50 new airports are being built, and BCS chief executive Patrick Teo is in Indonesia to bring more business New Zealand's way.

"From New Zealand we sell all the IT, so a lot of the software, systems engineering, smart technology comes from New Zealand. All the metal bashing comes locally," Teo said.

Garuda last provided a service to New Zealand in 2006, flying via Brisbane.

Auckland Airport shares were unchanged at $2.50 on the NZX today and are little changed this year.