1 Jun 2009

Cook Islands puts formal request to New Zealand government for flight underwrite

6:23 am on 1 June 2009

The Cook Islands government says it's only fair that New Zealand should help maintain its flights between Rarotonga and Los Angeles, given it's done the same for services from Samoa and Tonga.

The comment's from the Tourism Ministerm Wilkie Rasmussen, follows his confirmation that a written request for the underwriting of flights was sent to the New Zealand government more than a week ago.

New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, announced in March that it was important to help Pacific Island countries such as Samoa and Tonga by underwriting Air New Zealand services, in the face of their possible discontinuation.

Mr Rasmussen says there is any existing agreement between New Zealand and the Cook Islands that the Islands' government will share in the risk of maintaining the LA-Rarotonga route but the aid landscape has changed.

"Because New Zealand Aid had given funds to assist the Tonga-LA-Samoa route and we think if they are going to enter into assistance for tourism then the Cook Islands has a perfectly legitimate case to put to the New Zealand Government and say well, you should also assist us"