12 Sep 2006

Grave concerns in the Cook Islands that Air New Zealand will end North America flights

6:46 pm on 12 September 2006

There are grave concerns in the Cook Islands that Air New Zealand may soon no longer fly from North America to Rarotonga.

The airline has confirmed that the service is under review but would not reveal more.

The Cook Islands caretaker deputy prime minister, Dr Terepai Maoate, says if the flights are dropped then his government would want to hold immediate talks with the New Zealand government - the airline's majority shareholder.

He says ending the US flights would be very damaging for the Cook Islands tourism industry - a view echoed by the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Teresa Manarangi-Trott.

"For some of the larger industry people and those that depend on the North American and European market, it would collapse their market completely. In other words they just wouldn't have tourists from that area necessarily coming as freely as they are now."

Teresa Manarangi-Trott.