Flights will operate once a week for a four month trial period during the peak holiday season of July to October.

The seventeen return services on a Sunday from Sydney and Friday from Rarotonga will be operated by a 223 seat Boeing 767-300 with a configuration of 199 economy and 24 business class seats.

Flight time for the 5,000km journey is six hours from Sydney and seven hours 15 minutes from Rarotonga.

"We already carry a large number of passengers between Australia and the Cook Islands via Auckland," says Air New Zealand General Manager Tasman Pacific Airline Glen Sowry.

"The Cook Islands, including Aitutaki, is a very attractive destination to Australian travellers looking for a unique South Pacific experience."

"The introduction of direct services will provide a valuable boost to the Cook Islands community and with the support of the Cooks Islands Government and Cook Islands Tourism we will be working hard to make this trial a success."

Lead-in one-way economy fares from Sydney start at AU$487 and from Rarotonga from NZ$588.

The schedule is as follows:

 Sunday 04 July - Sunday 26 September:  Sydney - Rarotonga: - 1900/0500
 Friday 09 July - Friday 01 October:  Rarotonga - Sydney: - 1735/2050 +1 day


Due NSW daylight savings commencing 3 October, the schedule will alter as follows:

 Sunday 03 October - Sunday 24 October:  Sydney - Rarotonga: - 2000/0500
 Friday 08 October - Friday 29 October:  Rarotonga - Sydney: - 1635/2050 +1 day



Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 9 336 2761