Jetstar’s inaugural flight from Australia to the Cook Islands took off from Sydney Airport last week — the first time an Australian airline has serviced the South Pacific route since Ansett three decades ago.
No other airline currently flies direct between the two countries, with Jetstar’s non-stop service from Sydney to Rarotonga creating up to 60,000 great low fares between the two destinations each year.
Operated by the low-cost airline’s newest and lowest emissions aircraft, the Airbus A321neo LR (NEO), Jetstar’s three return services every week will help to grow and support the archipelago nation’s economy.
Jetstar’s Chief Customer Officer, Alan McIntyre was at Sydney Airport to farewell the first flight.
“We are excited to be providing the only direct option between Australia and the Cook Islands, making it a very convenient way to enjoy a tropical holiday,” Mr McIntyre said.
“Now just a five-hour flight from Sydney, our new service will make the Cook Islands the next hot holiday spot for Australians seeking a tropical island escape to relax and unwind, especially during cooler months.
“Our everyday low fares mean Australians can enjoy Rarotonga’s beautiful warm weather, white sand beaches and sparkling blue waters for less.
“We thank the Cook Islands Government for its support of the new route.”
Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown, said the Cook Islands is the ultimate tropical island destination.
“The island is renowned for some of the world’s most incredible crystal-clear waters, and Aitutaki lagoon is recognised as one of the most beautiful in the world,” Mr Brown said.
“The culture, cuisine, activities, and lifestyle of Cook Islanders is a drawcard for Australians as well as the wide range of accommodation, including full-service resorts, boutique hotels and holiday homes.
“For visitors wanting to explore further and experience wilderness off grid, there are multiple other islands in the Cook Islands to discover.
“We are grateful to Jetstar for the services they are providing, giving visitors and Cook Islander’s living in Australia easy access to the Cook Islands.”
The last Australian airline to operate a service between Australia and the Cook Islands was an Ansett company. Its aircraft flew with Cook Islands International and Polynesian livery, ceasing operations in 1990.
Jetstar already operates three return flights a week between Auckland and Rarotonga, however now customers from Australia can fly direct, saving at least three hours travel time, making the Cook Islands an easily accessible, must-see destination.
The new route is possible due to the introduction of Jetstar’s quieter and more fuel-efficient Airbus A321neo LR (NEO) which can fly further than the airline’s existing single aisle A320 and A321s due to its extra fuel tank.
Jetstar currently has eight NEOs flying domestically and internationally, the nineth is expected to arrive in July, with the airline’s initial delivery of 18 due to be completed by the end of next year.
Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands
The island nation is made up of 15 islands and atolls
It’s in the South Pacific, halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii
The country is named after British explorer James Cook who visited in the 1770s
It’s a self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand
The official currency is the NZ dollar
About 18,000 people live on the islands, they’re very friendly and welcoming
Locals wish each other well by saying Kia Orana: may you live a long, fulfilling life
Jetstar’s launch was celebrated with dancers and singers at check-in
more than 200 passengers and crew travelled on the inaugural flight
the flight time to Rarotonga is five hours and 30 minutes (an hour less than Sydney to Bali)
crossing the date line, passengers arrive on the same day they departed, going back 13 hours
the return journey is two hours longer due to westerly head winds – more time to enjoy Jetstar’s inflight service!
Airbus A321neo LR
The aircraft’s engines are 50 per cent quieter than similar size aircraft
it uses up to 20 per cent less fuel
has seat back USB power and device holders
coloured LED lighting adjusts to the stages of flight
40 per cent larger overhead storage bins
And wider seats.