Air New Zealand has revealed it will add 11,000 new seats to its route from Auckland to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
From Monday, 16 August, passengers will be able to choose from 11 different flights, compared with the nine per week previously. This will increase to 12 during the October school holidays.
The airline’s chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty, said the high demand for travelling to the Cook Islands comes as no surprise due to the warm weather.
“We want to help as many Kiwis as possible get away for a much-needed break, so it’s great we have been able to add more than 11,000 additional seats to our schedule to meet the increased demand,” she said.
“Not only is this great for the airline, with tourism being the mainstay of the Cook Islands economy, it’s fantastic that we can deliver more New Zealanders than ever to the island nation to help support their post-pandemic recovery.”
From 16 August to 31 October, 11 flights per week will operate, and from 4 to 17 October, 12 flights per week will operate.
Customers will be required to maintain mask-wearing onboard the flight to Rarotonga and will have needed to be in New Zealand 14 days prior to travel.
Compared with Australians, who spent $65 million in the Cook Islands in 2019, New Zealand tourists spent $201 million. Kiwi travellers made up 60 per cent of all international spending in the Islands, making New Zealand as a country paramount to its economic success yearly.
In May, a two-way travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands opened, heralding the start of quarantine-free travel.
However, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern argued then that, in the event of an outbreak, she is likely to try and immediately repatriate citizens rather than asking them to stay put, as is the case with Kiwis in Australia.
“As in the case with Australia, the bubble comes with a flyer beware caveat,” she said. “If there is an outbreak in New Zealand, flights are likely to be paused. In addition to that, a plan if there is an outbreak in the Cooks is more explicit.
“So rather than require everyone to shelter in place as we would in Australia, we would be more likely to get our people home. We view this as necessary to reduce pressure on the Cook Islands and minimise further spread of the virus.”