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Tourist influx expected as Jetstar adds flight

Thursday 14 March 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Travel


Tourist influx expected as Jetstar adds flight
Jetstar is adding a fourth weekly flight between Sydney and Rarotonga due to strong demand from Australian tourists. MELINA ETCHES / 23062908

Jetstar is adding a fourth weekly flight between Sydney and Rarotonga due to strong demand from Australian tourists, bringing the total to four flights per week, starting later this month.

The Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council sees massive potential in the Australian market. Their comments follow the confirmation of an additional flight on the Sydney to Rarotonga route by Jetstar.

Jetstar resumed flights from Sydney to Rarotonga in March after a one-month scheduled pause during a period of lower travel demand.  Jetstar’s executive manager customer, Jenn Armor, said the extra weekly service will add 20,000 low-cost seats annually to the already popular route. With this addition, Jetstar will fly between Sydney and Rarotonga on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

Liana Scott,     president of the Tourism Industry Council and general manager of the Muri Beach Club Hotel, expressed the industry’s delight at the extra service from Sydney to Rarotonga via Jetstar starting March 27th.

“This is a historical moment and the most international flights from another international port besides Auckland, New Zealand,” Scott said.

She emphasised the significant potential in the Australian market, particularly compared to Fiji’s Australian tourist numbers.

Cook Islands Tourism chief executive Karla Eggelton confirmed that the introduction of the fourth flight was announced by Prime Minister Mark Brown on October 12, 2023. 

“It was planned and programmed and so we as an industry are prepared to receive additional visitors from Sydney and broader Australia,” Eggelton said.

“The forecast and outlook of the four non-stop flights a week ex Sydney nonstop to Rarotonga is expected to perform positively and the collective total will go some way in addressing the reduced capacity out of New Zealand.”

Eggelton reiterated the importance of the visitor economy, which contributes over 68 per cent of GDP.

“What should be top of mind for our industry and community is ensuring our visitors have the best experiences when they are here. So a friendly reminder of our Kia Orana Spirit, our Mana Tiaki and Meitakivalues and show our visitors why 98 per cent are willing to recommend and 94 per cent of visitors are willing to return. Let’s make the Cook Islands the best Pacific Island destination to visit.”

Cook Islands Tourism general manager Graeme West echoed the positive sentiment, calling the introduction of the fourth weekly direct flight from Sydney “absolutely fantastic news”.

“Enquiry and demand from Australia has increased incredibly since Jetstar began direct services in late June 2023, and the addition of another flight is testament to that and very much welcomed,” West said.

Jetstar’s Armor reiterated their excitement about boosting flights between Sydney and Rarotonga in response to the strong demand from Australians wanting to visit the Cook Islands.

“The additional 20,000 low-cost seats each year on the route will give even more Australians the opportunity to fall in love with this tropical paradise, which is only a five-hour flight from Sydney,” she said. “We extend our sincere thanks to the Cook Islands Government for its ongoing support of the popular route.” 

Armor says the airline is boosting capacity between Sydney and Rarotonga in time for the busy Easter school holidays.  

“Jetstar is the only commercial airline to operate direct flights from Australia to the Cook Islands, with more than 31,000 customers using the service since it launched in June 2023.  

“Flights between Sydney and Rarotonga are operated by the newest aircraft in Jetstar’s fleet – the Airbus A321neo LR.” 

Cook Islands received 143,506 tourists in 2023, a massive increase of 29,955 from 113,551 visitors who embraced our shores in 2022. The 2023 increase was largely driven by the return of Australian visitors following the launch of Jetstar flights in June last year. The Australian market, including Cook Islands residents in Australia, contributed 23,726 – a massive increase of 14,815 from 8911 that visited the country in 2022.

One-way fares between Sydney and Rarotonga currently start from $302 AUD for select travel dates between late March and early May. Bookings can be made at