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Cook Islands airspace earns more than $300,000 a year

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Cook Islands earn over $300,000 per annum from airlines using the country’s airspace, Prime Minister Henry Puna has confirmed.

Puna, who is also the minister responsible for transport, said the initiative was promoted by the Cook Islands back in 1997 when the country hosted the Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga, Cook Islands News reports.

“I was secretary of transport at that time and I inadvertently became aware of the fact that other authorities were charging flights that were transiting through our airspace,” Puna told Parliament earlier this week.

“We raised the matter at the forum and our regional partners were very quick to support our initiative, and we now receive well over $300,000 per annum from flights that transit through our airspace.”

Puna said the same arrangement was not possible with ships transiting Cook Islands waters.

This after Titikaveka MP Selina Napa asked Puna whether the country received money from ships using our waters.

“In short, we cannot do that (charge ships transiting Cook Islands waters) because there is an international convention relating to the freedom of navigation. Unfortunately we don’t have that privilege in charging vessels that plies through our waters,” Puna replied.

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