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Sydney flights on the horizon

Monday 28 November 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Business, Economy, National, Travel

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Sydney flights  on the horizon

Cook Islands tourism sector is set to receive a timely boost with the return of direct flights to and from Australia.

In an interview with Sky News Australia, Prime Minister Mark Brown said direct flights between Cook Islands and Australia will return within the next few months.

The Prime Minister was scheduled to make an announcement during an “aviation update” at 9am today. However the press conference was postponed.

Cook Islands was one of the first countries in the world to shut its borders and the closure came at a significant cost.

“What we had to do in that time was basically ensure that we protected as much of our investment in our tourist industry as possible,” Brown told Sky News Australia.

“Because of our protection rates, we had no hospitalisations and we had one fatality.

“There’s no testing, there’s no quarantine, there’s no vaccination requirement, all of that has been done away with in a push to increase visitor arrivals.”

The Sydney (Australia) and Los Angeles direct flights operated by Air New Zealand pre-Covid were subsided by the Cook Islands government.

Over the past 10 years, prior to the pandemic, the government had paid Air New Zealand roughly $100 million in subsidies. In return, the airline has operated direct flights from lucrative Australian, North American and European markets.

In 2018/19 – the last non-Covid-19 year – the subsidy paid to Air New Zealand to underwrite the Los Angeles and Sydney routes was recorded at $12.9 million.

In 2018, the deal was extended to 2022 but funding to the airlines stopped when the borders were shut in April 2020.

PM Brown in March said: “I think we will manage to get the Australian flights before the LA flights.”

  • Additional reporting by Sky News Australia