Air New Zealand has added an extra flight to its weekly schedule in advance of quarantine free travel for residents and valid visa holders currently in the Cook Islands.
Beginning next week, tickets are being sold for two flights
per week on the airline’s website, with flights scheduled to depart Rarotonga
on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
According to statements by both governments, Cook Islands
nationals and residents who can obtain a valid visa will be able to travel
without the requirement of mandatory 14-day quarantine as of January 20 (Cook
To be eligible to enter New Zealand, passengers must not
have been outside of the Cook Islands or New Zealand or have had contact with a
confirmed Covid-19 case in the past 14 days. They must also pass health checks
which include assessment from a qualified health practitioner that they are
For foreign nationals, existing rules will apply for those
wishing to travel to NZ. Applicants must be in the Cook Islands when applying
for either a visa or the New Zealand electronic travel authority (NZeTA),
according to the Cook Islands government.
It is not yet clear if passport holders who aren’t from
visa-waiver countries will be permitted to travel, as the NZ government
suspended applications for some overseas applicants last August.
Upon arrival in New Zealand, passengers must wear a facemask
and practice physical distancing with other passengers at the airport.
Public health officials in NZ will be undertaking random
temperature checks of passengers on all flights arriving from the Cook Islands
into New Zealand.
According to an NZ government statement, Auckland Airport
will separating arriving Cook Islands residents from other arriving passengers
by giving Cook Islands flights exclusive use of the international terminal for
Additionally, there will be no other arriving flights within
90 minutes of either side of the scheduled arrival time.
Passengers will also be escorted off flights and through the
terminal in areas marked by stanchions and barriers. The terminal is expected
to undergo cleaning between flights.
There will also be a dedicated and sanitised baggage
carousel to be used exclusively by travellers originating from the Cook
Islands, the statement read.
A separate path will lead passengers through the public area
of the arrivals hall with a double barrier from a separate path used by
travelers going into managed isolation or quarantine.
Before returning to the Cook Islands, passengers will need
to undertake a Covid-19 test within 96 hours of their flight departing, which
must be negative and complete the exit health clearance process at Auckland
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Greg Foran says the airline is proud to be bringing Rarotongan neighbours to New Zealand and making headway with two-way quarantine-free travel.
“This is fantastic news for both Cook Islanders and New
Zealanders. We know many Cook Islanders will be eager to connect with friends
and family in New Zealand, and we look forward to seeing what a two-way
quarantine-free travel arrangement will look like,” Foran said in a statement.
“Of course safety is our first priority for our customers
and staff. We’ve been working closely with both governments, relevant agencies
and airports on what is required to keep our customers and staff safe once
travel opens up.”