Cook Islands AirlinesThe Cook Islands Airlines
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3rd-level New Zealand: Rarotonga Air
It' s a long way from the flight of Aero Commanders for Geyserland Airways via Kaikohe, Auckland, Rotorua and Gisborne to the ownership of the Cook Islands carrier... but that is the history of Ewan Smith, the proprietor of Air Rarotonga. Cook Islands are about 4 flight hrs from Auckland between Tonga and Tahiti.
Rarotonga, the principal isle, has about 9,000 inhabitants, the 15 islands are home to about 15,000 in all. The Cook Islands consist of 25 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. Three archipelagos - the south is the most populated, while the north has very small population.
As many of the South Pacific countries, the Second World War with airports in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Penrhyn made the evolution of airports in the cooks necessary. The Aitutaki became known as a stop on TEAL's coral route from Fiji to Samoa, Aitutaki and Tahiti, which was run by Short Solent airboats.
However, in 1947 RNZAF and NZ National Airways Corporation began to operate NAC services to Rarotonga, NAC services from Whenuapai to Norfolk Island, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The TEAL terminated when the TEAL called Aitutaki, although this Rarotonga without a flight without a flight without a flight to the great consternation of the Cook Island state.
Coral Route Services ended in 1960 and the Cook's were without flight services until 1963, when Polynesian Airlines ran a DC-3 from Apia to Rarotonga and TEAL bought all seatings. The 90-minute regulation, that is, that if an aeroplane loses an aero-motor, an alternative aerodrome would be within 90 Minuten of the flight with an aeroplane powering it, came to an end in 1966.
RNZAF launched an alternative airlift with its Handley Page Hastings airlift. However, they were already in the process of building an airfield on Rarotonga that is suitable for feeding jets. Up to then, Hawker Siddeley 748 was hired by Hawker Pacific and Polynesian Airlines to offer the Cooks a flight experience.
Rarotonga Int'lareport was flown to on 1 December 1973 and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 29 January 1974. With the opening of the new intercontinental airfield, the first Cook Islands carrier and its first national flight was born.
The Cook Island Airways was formed as a JV between Air New Zealand, which held 90% of the business, and the Cook Island administration, which held the other 10%. Rarotonga's main objective was to operate services between Rarotonga and Aitutaki in conjunction with Air New Zealand's Coral Route.
Yevan Smith was named head of flight and was the perfect man to build up the airlines and flight services. He was able to make sure that the company's first airplane, Britten Norman BN2A-21 Islander ZK-KHA (c/n C661), was kept at a high level. He was the one who flown the first internal flight between Rarotonga and Aitutaki on 25 November 1973.
Services quickly increased from 3 to 8 to 9 weekly departures. About two years later, on the instigation of Ewan Smith, an airport was constructed on the Isle of Aitu, with the government of Cook Iceland making a grade and two labourers available and the local volunteers doing their work.
On the islands of Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia, airports followed this partnering scheme. The second BN Islander, ZK-KHB (c/n), was added to the Cook Island Airways aircraft in June 1978. Whilst the government of Cook Island was satisfied with the development of airports on other islands in the land, it was not very satisfied with offering them a flight route, whereby the flight to Aitutaki was primarily meant as a connection to the coral route of AAZ.
Cook Island Airways' close attention allowed Ewan Smith to see the opportunity for another carrier to become a Cook company, and in 1978 he visited Cook Islands Prime Minister Albert Henry, who commissioned him to found such an airline. In 1978 he visited Cook Island Airways. He partnered with Ross and Vara Hunter and Ian Rhodes, the Rarotonga Head of Air New Zealand, and founded Air Rarotonga in 1978.
On the Cook Islands Maori means Taiwan the number one and it was also the name of one of Ewan's best mates. At first, the firm provided on-demand taxis, but within a few month a liner shipping line was set up to Mangaia and then Aitutaki. Aitutaki' s services were highly competitive with Cook Iceland Airways, which is mainly operated by AAZ, and had a strong relationships with tour operators.
For the Cessna 172L ZK-NTP (c/n 1729994), it was added to the charterer' s charter in September 1978 to operate flights from Rarotonga. Cessna 337 ZK-TAI with Jimmy Tearai and Tearai-Mokoro and Air Rarotonga on the Isle of Atiu. The ZK-TAI again, but this year in Rarotonga, after it has been painted again. One year after the launch of Air Rarotonga, Munro Hockin entered the group.
Formerly an educator at Rotorua Aero Club, he spent most of Ewan's lifetime with Air Rarotonga as a partner. Under his leadership, Air Rarotonga developed the path for Cook Islanders to become a pilot in the aerospace world.
All of Ewan's work in developing Air Rarotonga, however, was jeopardized by the Air New Zealand flight attendant strikes at Christmas 1985. Considering that the travellers could not come from and to Rarotonga, Ewan made an unbelievably dangerous choice. The Air Rarotonga was on the brink of'survival'.
A Hawaiian Airlines DC-8 was hired in the center of the city and flown between Rarotonga and Auckland. And they relocated their conventional travellers for their own transfers - and outlived. All aircrafts were removed from the New Zealand CC Commercial Registry on 1 June 2005 and entered in the new Cook Islands Registr.
The number of applications was the same, but with the Cook Islands E5 area. An alternate bandit came from Australia in February 2012 and was also recorded as E5-TAI (c/n 110447) in July 2012. Air Rarotonga and Air Tahiti launched a week-long codeshared between Papeete and Rarotonga with Air Tahiti's ATR-42 or ATR-72 local turboproper.
That means that a single fare to Aitutaki is available to visitors and Air New Zealand also serves a harbour of historical importance dating back to the time of airboats. It also bought a Saab 340 from Air New Zealand when it bought the Saab.
That means that Rarotonga carries out regular inspections and maintanance work, but every three years the Saab goes to Nelson for a three-month full inspection. Rarotonga has also handled groundhandling for a number of airlines that have serviced Rarotonga, such as Aloha, South Pacific Island Airways, Royal Tongan, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Pacific Blue and Air Tahiti.
A further important modification for Air Rarotonga is the evolution of Global Positioning System (GPS). There were only two NDB bonfires on the remote islands before the arrival of the NDB, one at Manihiki, which Air Rarotonga itself set up, and the other at Penryhn. That means that navigating to the islands outside required a great deal of dexterity.
With the emergence of reconnaissance satellite navigation, the publication of flights and the installation of satellite navigation instruments at all external airports in Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manihiki, Mauke, Mitiaro, Penrhyn and Pukapuka have become possible. However, just using your own navigation system does not help with the logistic issues of the company itself. For example, a bandeirante plane to Manihiki first has to go 142nm to Aitutaki to fill up.
The transportation of alternative fuels for Aitutaki means that it can only transport 8 people. In Aitutaki, the aircraft has to fill up on the southward journey to Rarotonga. Nevertheless, the Bandeirante is perfect for the cooks. As there is currently no 18-seater on the aftermarket, there is no substitute in the near term and Air Rarotonga has recently added new motors to its bandeirante family.
Rarotonga's initial bandeirante, which was shown on 26 May 2014 in Rarotonga in the Cook Island marks of E5-TT. Air Rarotonga has also found the Saab perfect for its services to Aitutaki and no plane of a similar scale is being made. A 25-year test program has recently been published by Saab to guarantee the ongoing servicing of its aircrafts.
Under the Air Rarotonga emblem are the words ARL. Ewan Smith has been insisting on high quality standards in all areas of flight operation since Air Rarotonga was founded over 35 years ago. But as one of the drivers told me, Ewan and Munro have been here so long, they are Cook Islanders!
At such high standard, it is not astonishing that Air Rarotonga aircrafts are flying for Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Flight Dubai and other aircraft-owners. It is also a proud supporter of the communities with its sponsoring of many sports and culture in the Cook Islands.
Aitutaki Saab 340 E5-EFS at the turn-around on May 23, 2014. As many airlines have come and gone in the Pacific, Air Rarotonga has lived and thrived with its standards of excellence, providing a level of services to the islands of cooks that has evolved and contributed to the development of the country's tourist ingenuity.
The 36-year-old story of which Ewan, Munro and the Air Rarotonga crew can be really proud.