Cooks to welcome a jet for charters and medivacs
Air Rarotonga to bring in a small jet for charters and medical evacuations.
In a little over two months Pacific Private Jet will start flying charters and medical evacuations in and out of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
The company is a subsidiary of Air Rarotonga, the main provider of domestic air services in the Cooks.
Its managing director, Ewan Smith, told Don Wiseman about their plans for their Cessna Citation.
EWAN SMITH: It's an extension of what we've been doing. We presently do full medevac operations within the Cook Islands with a Bandeirante aircraft. We have one that is fitted out for the medevac. Acquiring the Cessna Citation means we can expand that ability to not only provide more rapid and more urgent transfers from our northern group islands but also the ability to provide medevac from Rarotonga on through to Auckland where required.
DON WISEMAN: You are going further afield than the Cooks?
EW: With our charter operations, yes we will. At present we do a considerable amount of charter between the southern and the northern Cook Islands and then occasionally we get across to Niue or Samoa or Tahiti but with a jet that is going to crunch those longer sectors down to less than two hours we believe we are going to expand that business.
DW: I mean in terms of medevac, you are not going to cater for other countries at this point?
EW: Not at this point but we may as time goes on. It's part of the operation. Medevac is only part of the operation that we are planning. The primary purpose is private jet charter, air expeditions and we will have a medevac capability as well. We are going to start with what we have got now and gradually build it from there.
DW: With the idea being that people would be medevaced through to Auckland?
EW: At the moment we see quite a lot of medevac activity through the Pacific and that is visitors normally who are covered by travel insurance for evacuation. As such, our local residents here are not covered by that type of thing so what we are proposing is, at the moment our domestic medical evacuations are normally covered by our health department here, and we're proposing now to be able to provide a service to Auckland in an economic manner. How we provide that to the wider population here, maybe through a private insurance scheme, we are just working on the details of that. The important thing is that we'll have that capability, which we have not had before.
DW: In terms of the private charters that you are talking of, you must have a sense of the sort of demand that's out there in the Pacific.
EW: We do. As you would be aware, there is not a lot in the way of east-west links, east of Samoa and west of here. We operate a joint venture with Air Tahiti between here and Tahiti. Fiji Airways get down to Tonga and across to Samoa but there is a big gap between here and Samoa, Niue, Fiji. So our sense is, we just know from the enquiry level that we get that there is more business that we can do around the region than what we are doing just with the turbo-prop.
DW: And you will have the jet in action when?
EW: We are anticipating in service the second week of August. It's presently in Australia. We have acquired the aircraft and it's having some additional avionics fitted. A long form maintenance inspection carried out. We've got some training to do and we will have it here doing route proving between the end of July, beginning of August.
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