24 Jun 2003

Cook Islands needs national airline says leading businessman

4:29 pm on 24 June 2003

A leading Cook Islands businessman says a national airline needs to be established because the economy is so reliant on tourism.

Tata Crocombe, who owns the Rarotonga Beach Resort and Spa, says while it will be expensive to set up, the Cook Islands should see a national carrier as a lifeline because it isn't well enough served by other airlines.

Mr Crocombe says eighty percent of the economy is based on tourism so the country needs to be able to bring more people in.

"Our primary problem is we are strangled out of the Australian market, the Cook Island is the single most requested destination in Australia, but one of the least fulfilled. In other words the consumer is coming through and saying we want to go to the Cook Islands and we can't get there so therefore we go somewhere else and in New Zealand, the few occasions where the airfares have been parallel with Fiji, the Cook Islands have out sold Fiji, two to one."

Tata Crocombe.

Air New Zealand flies regularly to Rarotonga but is reported to be looking at cutting back flights and Aloha airlines doesn't fly out of its major markets of Australia and New Zealand to the Cook Islands.