12 Jun 2008

Cooks to allow Sunday flights to tourist island

1:00 pm on 12 June 2008

The Cook Islands government has adopted a plan to allow Sunday flights from Rarotonga to Aitutaki.

Religious groups had circulated a petition opposing the move, which they say received around 900 signatures on the island.

The trial will be for six months, and then an Aitutaki referendum will be held to decide if the Sunday air service has produced enough economic and social benefits.

Finance Minister Sir Terepai Maoate says his approach is to be very cautious and maintain that a limit be placed on the number of flights.

He says there are compelling reasons to justify Cabinet's decision, which include a significant drop in visitor numbers over past years.

He says Aitutaki needs to prepare itself now for the world wide recession so it can better weather the effects.