Airport upgrade on the cards

Thursday March 27, 2014 Written by Release/Mark Ebrey Published in Weather
The arrivals hall at Rarotonga Airport. The arrivals hall at Rarotonga Airport.

Rarotonga and Aitutaki airports are about to be given a technical work-over to identify potential upgrades as part of the Government's National Sustainable Development Plan (2011-2015).

The study includes four components: The Rarotonga Airport runway and navigational aid study; terminal expansion study; feasibility study into the use of renewable energy; and the Cook Islands Airport Authority Strategic Plan and Rarotonga Airport Business Plan.

It also includes looking at a possible upgrade for Aitutaki Airport.

Engineering, architecture and environmental consulting company GHD has been awarded a project from the European Investment Bank to provide technical assistance for the Cook Islands airport upgrades. The company was selected from a shortlist of seven international consultants.

Rarotonga Airport is main airport of the Cook Islands and welcomes more than 100,000 visitors each year. It is home to Air Rarotonga, the main national airline, which operates domestic inter-island services and chartered flights to French Polynesia, Niue, Samoa and Tonga. Other direct international services to Rarotonga include Air New Zealand (to Auckland, Los Angeles and Sydney), Virgin Australia (Auckland) and Air Tahiti (Papeete).

GHD’s General Manager in New Zealand Barry Potter says: “Aviation is crucial for the Cook Islands, both for tourism as well as essential transport. Air transport is vital for enabling economic growth and providing various social benefits. This project will allow us to develop practical solutions so that the aviation facilities meet the growing needs of the community, now and into the future.”

GHD’s Aviation Leader in New Zealand Tim Booth added: “This project will leverage GHD’s extensive aviation capabilities and local knowledge. Our previous experience in the Cook Islands demonstrates our appreciation for the culture, and our ability to effectively engage local stakeholders. For example, consultation will be carried out in both English and Maori”

GHD’s completed projects in the Cook Islands include an airport feasibility study for the islands, as well as a disaster risk management engineering infrastructure review.  

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