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Cook Islands tourist operators plead for more direct flights

Thursday 25 August 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


Cook Islands tourist operators plead for more direct flights
Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Walter Zweifel

The Cook Islands tourism sector is calling for direct flights to Rarotonga from Sydney and Los Angeles.

At the Global Breakfast Update at the Edgewater Resort on Tuesday about 100 business leaders were told by the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation that talks about flights are taking place.

Managing director of Castaway Resort, Paul Ash, says it is frustrating not knowing what will happen but he understands the information may be sensitive.

He says they can't just rely on the flights from New Zealand.

"Big picture, we need a dreamliner or a (Boeing) 777 coming here once a fortnight from LA, Vancouver or Sydney. A lot of the northern hemisphere (travel) would go through Sydney as well, so that was the other doorway here, but that's not available now."

Paul Ash says businesses may need a wage subsidy to get them through off-peak months if nothing changes soon.

Govt reconsidering restrictions for visitors

The Cook Islands government is considering scrapping the remaining Covid-19 restriction for incoming passengers.

At the moment over 16-year-olds must be vaccinated.

Bob Williams said policy decisions will be decided when the new cabinet is formed.

"The requirement that remains is any visitors over 16 years have to be vaccinated. We have to assess our current situation in the country against the economic recovery."

Flights are currently available from Auckland, New Zealand with Air New Zealand and Jetstar, and from Papeete, Tahiti with Air Rarotonga with no quarantine or isolation on arrival.


Peter Szawlowski on 03/09/2022

Kia Orana - In my previous comment I forgot to mention that I looked into taking advantage of the Air Rarotonga weekly flight, alas in my case it would mean a many hours layover in the Tahiti airport transit lounge or stay in a hotel in Papeete for a night before flying on to Rarotonga. I sincerely hope that the direct flights from and to Los Angeles will happen again.

Peter Szawlowski on 03/09/2022

We have been coming to the Cook Islands since 2002. In the early days the Air New Zealand flights to Rarotonga had to stop and re-fuel in Papeete. We were very happy when newer planes shortened the flight time from LAX to Raro considerably. Now we have to fly all the way south to Auckland, and then backtrack north to Raro. One only needs to look at a map to see how crazy that routing is. But we are doing it this coming November, returning to Raro after a two year absence.

Laura Morin on 30/08/2022

The main reason we came to Rarotonga back in the 1990's was because it was so easy to get there from Los Angeles. We fell in love with the people and culture and continued to visit at least twice a year ever since. But now, well, I'm getting into my 70s and I don't want to deal with changing planes, long waits, maybe losing luggage. We hope to make it back again while I am still able, but not until we can get a direct flight. It doesn't sound too hopeful.

Eileen Wood on 29/08/2022

My husband & I booked flights from the US through Tahiti in August when flights with Air Rarotonga were announced. Our return to Tahiti from Rarotonga was scheduled for Wednesday, 5 October. I saw on FB the Wednesday flight was to be delayed until later. We were not notified of this by Air Raro. This caused a change fee for our domestic flight & Tahiti flight for a cost of US $280. On Friday, 26 August, Air Raro informed us the flight scheduled for Sunday, 18 September was rescheduled to Saturday, 17 September due to aircraft maintenance & crew issues. This resulted in change fees for our domestic flight & Tahiti flight totaling US $1000 additional fees. The total change fees for us now is US $1280. We are beyond frustrated & discouraged. This connection via Tahiti is totally disorganized & grossly mismanaged. If this is going to be a viable option for North Americans & Canadians then these flights need to be established & organized more efficiently. Eileen Wood

T F on 27/08/2022

Paul Ash is correct! You won’t see any US or European business until you have a Large Aircraft, DIRECT gateway service from LAX!

John Paterson on 26/08/2022

No way am I traveling through Tahiti to go to Rarotonga. Canadians would love a flight from Vancouver Canada. Nice safe and warm destinations for our winter getaways are needed badly. Mexico is now a dangerous place. Hawaii is way too expensive. It would be a winner for the Cooks.