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Giving back to our people: Airport to celebrate 50th anniversary with public tours

Tuesday 9 January 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Giving back to our people: Airport to celebrate 50th anniversary with public tours
The Airport Authority Cook Islands (AACI) is in full swing preparing for the 50th celebration of the opening of the Rarotonga International Airport of January 29, 2024. MELINA ETCHES/24010803

The community can look forward to public access to the Rarotonga International Airport terminals during the week leading up to the 50th anniversary celebrations later this month on Monday, January 29.

The Airport Authority Cook Islands (AACI) is busy preparing for the 50th celebration of the airport, and they are inviting the public to take part in the festivities!

AACI is offering an open invitation to walk through the airport’s arrival and departure terminal, or to take a walk, run, or cycle across the 2.329-kilometre air strip.

Yesterday, the programme leading up to the commemoration event was released by AACI’s security manager Tukua Tangaroa, who is also the event’s coordinator.

Tangaroa said these celebrations are not just about the airport, but also about “giving back to our people”.

He expressed that the Airport Authority is offering an exclusive opportunity for the community to experience the inside of the terminals, admire the new murals, and meet the staff who are the frontline faces of the gateway to the Cook Islands.

The week of activities leading up to the big day has been confirmed, with more details being finalised for the 50th celebration day programme.

The Airport Authority will begin their beautification programme decorating the airport on Saturday, January 20.

On Monday, January 22 at 8.30am the “Terminal Visit” and “Airport Authority Careers Expo” will begin at the check-in area side of the airport (Air New Zealand/Air Raro). The public is invited for a tour, closing at 11am.

The following day on Tuesday, January 23, the “Runway Visit” will be open to the public strictly from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. Please note that times may be adjusted.

Members of the public are asked to park at the Panama Meeting House (behind Cook Islands Building Supplies). Entry to the runway will be accessed through the Panama gate.

This is an opportunity for walkers, runners and cyclists to experience being on the runway. Security restrictions will also be lifted, allowing the community to take memorable selfies or photographs on the runway.

A bus will be waiting at the seawall end of the runway for those who would like assistance to return to the Panama gate.

On Wednesday, January 24, the Airport Carpark Market Trade Days will begin at 8am. Twenty-five vendors have registered stalls to trade crafts, art and food during the Market Trade Days, which will run for three days until Friday, January 26, from 8am to 12pm, inside the airport carpark.

Parking at the airport will be free during these events and attendees are kindly asked to be patient and follow instructions from airport personnel.

In 1970, on June 11, work on the new international airport started.

On September 5, 1973, the first jet aircraft to land at Rarotonga on the completed strip was an Air Pacific BAC 1-11 series 475.

On January 29, 1974, the official opening of the Rarotonga International Airport was commemorated by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The first Boeing 747 service from Auckland to Rarotonga arrived on November 5, 1982.

The Airport Authority Cook Islands (AACI) is a fully state-owned company established in 1985 to manage the airports on the islands of Aitutaki and Rarotonga.