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[Media Release - MFAI] Emergency Landing of Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion at Rarotonga Airport

Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration


Thursday 28 January 2021 - 1400


Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration have this afternoon processed un urgent request for diplomatic aircraft clearance to allow landing for a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Orion at Rarotonga Airport, as a result of deteriorating weather conditions presented by Tropical Depression (T.D) 04F and TD 05F, centred just west of Vanuatu as of yesterday afternoon.


It is expected the RNZAF Orion will land at Rarotonga Airport this evening, Thursday 28 January at 6.30 pm, and depart again at 7.30 pm to complete return journey to Whenuapai, New Zealand.


The RNZAF Orion has been granted permission to land at Rarotonga Airport to undertake urgent re-provisioning and aircraft checks, all of which are to be done in a contactless fashion. All crew and passengers aboard the aircraft will remain on-board for the duration of re-provisioning, with the domestic ground crew to be cleared away prior to any external checks of the aircraft to be undertaken by the aircraft pilot and engineers.


Said Secretary Herrmann, “MFAI remains committed to strengthening the Cook Islands ongoing cooperation efforts with our diplomatic partners as we face the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Furthermore, our appreciation for the assistance and support we receive from New Zealand towards enhancing the security of our borders, as evidenced through our cooperation with the NZDF, RNZAF and NZ Navy, cannot be overstated. In this instance where emergency landing is required, we, of course, would seek to respond favourably but still within the important restrictions we’ve imposed at the border and supplementary health measures, to ensure such assistance is rendered in a way that protects our community and upholds the integrity of our border processes and systems.”


Requests for diplomatic clearance are managed by Te Kauono Tutara e te Mana Tiaki - Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration, in close consultation with senior officials from Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health and all relevant border agencies including MFEM-Customs, Airport Authority, Ports Authority, MOA-Biosecurity, Ministry of Transport and Cook Islands Police.


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