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Airport Authority marks 49 years since Rarotonga International gained wings

Wednesday 15 February 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National

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Airport Authority marks 49 years since Rarotonga International gained wings
Cook Islands Airport Authority chief executive Nikau Tangaroa addresses staff during a morning celebration to mark its 49th anniversary at the Rarotonga International Airport yesterday. 23021504

Cook Islands Airport Authority has shouted its staff morning tea as it readies itself for a 50th birthday.

Senior staff blew out the candles to celebrate 49 years since the airport opened during a casual meeting of staff at its airport facility yesterday.

About 50 people were in attendance as chief executive Nikau Tangaroa and board chairman Taoro Brown gave speeches.  

Brown said some staff had been with Cook Islands Airport Authority from the start and there had been plenty of milestones.

“It’s been a gateway for us, it has boosted tourism and there have been economic benefits,” Brown said.

“From retail to the many businesses today which you people are a part of. This is a collective effort from a team that works well.”

Brown said staff were looking forward to the 50-year celebrations in 2024.

“It will be a huge milestone for us; the best way to go forward is you guys.

“The best way to tell the story is from the people who are part of that story, which is you guys.”

On 11 June 1970, work on the new international airport started. On 5 September 1973, the first jet aircraft to land at Rarotonga on the completed strip was an Air Pacific BAC 1-11 series 475.

On 29 January 1974, Queen Elizabeth II attended the official opening of the Rarotonga International Airport.

By 1982, the Boeing 747 service between Auckland and Rarotonga was in operation.