A repatriation service flying direct from Delhi to Auckland has brought hundreds of Kiwis home this morning.
The 16-hour Air India flight was due to land about 11.30am but arrived just after 10am at Auckland Airport.
New Zealanders arriving on the flight will stay in a hotel under managed isolation for 14 days.
The airport's aeronautical commercial general manager, Scott Tasker, said in a press release the flight was significant for the city.
"Any time we get a first visit from an airline on a new route, it's a big deal. Less than a year ago, we led a delegation of tourism industry leaders to India and we were working hard to develop the market.
"I'd like to think that in the future we might see a scheduled direct flight between India and New Zealand. The bonds between our two countries are strong and our hope is that India will be a key market in the long-term recovery of New Zealand's tourism industry."
India's middle class is predicted to grow from 80 million in 2018 to 580 million people by 2025.
Last year, more than 65,000 Indians visited New Zealand, transiting in a third country along the way.
The service is part of a large-scale Indian Government repatriation effort to get Indian citizens back home.
The Vande Bharat Mission has already seen more than 45,000 Indians return home from all around the world. In its third phase, 70 flights are scheduled to cities in the US and Canada, between 11 and 30 June.
"With about eight percent of Aucklanders having Indian ethnicity, we know there will be a great deal of interest in these flights from people in our community," Tasker said.
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been approached for comment.
India has had more thanb 200,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 6000 deaths.