There is a focus on increasing logistical support for air traffic in and out of Aitutaki. 23090835
Should there be an increase in international charter flights to Aitutaki, basing border officials in Aitutaki will be explored, says Principal Immigration Officer, Chere Arthur.
In a statement, Arthur made this comment after Cook
Islands border agency representatives, including the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Immigration (MFAI), travelled to Aitutaki at the end of August with
transport, airport, and airline representatives to review international flight
clearance processes, regulatory requirements, and airport facilities to support
international private charter flights into Aitutaki.
“Due to the infrequent international charter flights
direct to Aitutaki, the viable option has been to transport officers from
Rarotonga to Aitutaki when required.”
“Should there be an increase in international charter flights to Aitutaki, basing border officials in Aitutaki will be explored. The intention is to stagger domestic and international arrivals to Aitutaki to minimise congestion in the terminal and have clear area for processing of the international charters."
MFAI said inter-agency work is ongoing to bed down
forward international charter flights to Aitutaki.
Involved agencies would continue to work with the
airlines to ensure necessary facilitation towards international flights to
MFAI would also continue to work closely with partner
domestic and regional agencies to mitigate against any risks, including as
relates to international private charters and small craft entering the Cook
Islands, whether via Rarotonga or Aitutaki.
"It is imperative our international border security
arrangements for international flights and shipping are robust," Arthur
"The nature of our zone, almost two million square
kilometres of ocean, with a smattering of two-hundred and forty square
kilometres of land that make up our 15 islands, requires all border agencies to
sustain year-long cooperation internally and with regional and international
security agencies, who are equipped with monitoring and surveillance
capabilities of the evolving risks that are constantly hovering around our
“MFAI is presently reviewing the terms of reference for
the Combined Border Agencies Taskforce active during Covid-19 to ensure it is
fit for purpose moving forward, before progressing this to border agencies for
MFAI Border Security Lead, Tereroa Pumati said securing
international borders are important for keeping the people and country safe.
"The multi-agency and airline scoping mission was
important to ensure the continued security of our international borders, as we
look to support the growth of international charters to Aitutaki, while taking
a pragmatic approach to streamlining flight clearance processing and the
Aitutaki airport set-up so it meets the regulations for international airports
operations. The perspectives of border officials for such scoping missions are
important to ensuring the set-up is regulations compliant, and they support
operational safety and effectiveness."
Areas reviewed included, set-up of processing, privacy,
and cordoned areas to uphold international border requirements while ensuring
the safety of all persons within the airport vicinity during international
The mission to Aitutaki, supported by Air Rarotonga, was
scheduled to coincide with the arrival of an international charter flight,
which Rarotonga-based border officials processed.
The mission afforded an opportunity to conduct refresher
training for Aitutaki-based border security designated officers.
Moving forward, the intention is to empower designated
officers, resident in Aitutaki, to process international charter flights
alleviating the need to have Rarotonga-based officers fly to Aitutaki for