29 Jan 2015

Calls for referendum in Cooks over Sunday flights

8:48 pm on 29 January 2015

The Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, has called for a referendum on Aitutaki to decide the fate of a controversial Sunday flight to the atoll.

The Cook Island News reports Mr Puna saying when he was in Aitutaki over the weekend he was reminded of tension among residents about the flight.

Air Rarotonga first introduced the flight in 2008 with the aim of boosting the number of tourists, but it has remained controversial among residents who consider Sunday to be sacred and say businesses should not operate.

Mr Puna says there needs to be a referendum on the flight before March.

However, Air Rarotonga's managing director, Ewan Smith, says the proposal is news to him, and cutting the flight would be hugely disruptive to Aitutaki as it's proved very popular.