The government has extended a partnership between Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines for another five years, saying it creates stronger bonds with South East Asia. 

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the strategic alliance has been reauthorised until March 2024, when the airlines will have to show the partnership hasn’t weighed on competition. The airlines sought to have it extended to March 2026, saying the alliance had proved its value so far and to provide them with enough certainty to add capacity. 

“The services the airlines provide through the alliance strengthens New Zealand’s ties with our close neighbours in South East Asia and with other emerging markets throughout Asia,” Twyford said. “Reauthorisation of the alliance will result in more benefits to travellers. These benefits include a wider range of flight times, more seats and reciprocal frequent flyer schemes.”

The deal means Air NZ and Singapore Airlines can cooperate on routes between New Zealand and Singapore and share the revenue. Since it first started in January 2015, the airlines have increased the number of flights between the two nations and added seat capacity by more than 25 percent. 

A new service between Auckland and Singapore is scheduled to start later this month, adding a third daily flight and adding an annual 165,000 seats. At peak service, the airlines operate 35 return flights a week. 

Auckland International Airport, Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa supported the application for the reauthorisation, including the longer term.

Christchurch International Airport was more sceptical, saying a shorter term could deliver some of the public benefits claimed by the airlines, and suggesting the alliance only be authorised for four years. 

Government data show the number of Singaporeans who have visited New Zealand has climbed to 60,464 in the year ended June 30, from 47,280 in the June 2015 year. 

Air New Zealand shares increased 0.8 percent to $3.03. 

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