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By Moana Moeka'a

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (May 20, 2000 – Cook Islands News)--It was supposed to be a whirlwind courtesy visit for Air Rarotonga's Manager of Terminal Services, Tua Pittman, in preparation for the beginning of Air Pacific's service to the Cooks on June 2.

Leave Rarotonga for Fiji on Thursday morning for a meeting with Air Pacific management in Nadi. Then return to Rarotonga yesterday morning - 24 hours later - and knuckle down in preparation for the inaugural Air Pacific flight in two week’s time.

"About five minutes after I got there, the guy with us told us about the coup. I wanted to jump back on the plane again!" said Pittman.


The situation was relatively quiet in Nadi but Pittman said he detected a lot of anger from those working in the tourism industry on the western side of Viti Levu, following news of the coup.

"After all these years they are back to the situation they were in 1987. A large part of the tourism industry is based in Nadi. The people in Nadi are angry because for them. That's their livelihood," Pittman said.

But while the coup is a blow to Fiji's tourism trade, Pittman said it will not affect Air Pacific's schedules into the Cook Islands.

Air Pacific's chief executive Michael McQuay and marketing executives are expected aboard the inaugural flight from Fiji, along with a number of Cook Islanders who will be invited along for the occasion.

Currently two Air Rarotonga staff, Pittman's assistant Ria Emile and Mana Pureau from the engineering division, are undergoing training in Nadi.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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