22 Dec 2010

Cooks strikes deal with Air New Zealand

9:10 am on 22 December 2010

The Cook Islands government has entered into a three-year agreement with Air New Zealand to provide a direct flight from Los Angeles to Rarotonga and another direct flight between Sydney and Rarotonga

The third extra flight will be a weekly Nadi to Rarotonga service under a similar three-year agreement with Air Pacific.

The cost of the arline subsidies will be 26 million US dollars over three years.

Our correspondent, Flo Syme-Buchanan, says the Prime Minister Henry Puna is confident the measures will be a boost.

"Prime Minister Puna says government doesn't forsee the need to remove any existing programmes in the budget to accommodate the new initiatives and they're expected to pay or themselves. Conservatively, the new government is expecting just over 72,000 extra visitors between next year and 2014. Mr Puna says government is committed to fast-tracking remedial action in waste management, water and sanitation and to ensure the country's infrastructure is able to cope with the proposed increase in tourism. The prime minister has said his government recognizes the need to quickly address outstanding environmental concerns ."