Wednesday, July 14
I was hoping to get this post online two or three weeks ago but as mentioned below, internet access in Papeete was slow and expensive and the same was true for the Aranui 3. However, it was quite pleasant to forget about email and computers for a while. And the terminal’s still there. Here’s the post – at last.
The next few videos will be of the solar eclipse and the Marquesas.
The new terminal at Rarotonga airport was officially opened on Monday 21 June although it had been in use for some time before that.
I didn’t make it to the opening as I was busy packing for a trip to Tahiti and the Marquesas but I heard the sound of drums, rather a lot of them and going on for a very long time. This probably means that everything started late and there were too many speeches.
Not to worry, there’s only one plane a week to Tahiti at the moment and it flies in on Tuesdays so I was down at the terminal the following day to welcome the Air Tahiti ATR32 and check out the facilities.
I’ve heard people moaning about the building; what was wrong with the old one? (arriving and departing passengers could mix and mingle – a no-no in these days of enhanced security); the tatty old terminal had a certain charm (but very few places for travellers to sit down); the new building is too hot (this might well be true for a full Air New Zealand jumbo-load but Tuesday’s twenty or so passengers plus staff didn’t overtax the fans).
The terminal has a large north-facing roof area so, when finances permit, the Airport Authority can install solar panels and air-condition everywhere. The Business Class lounge is already air-conditioned and very comfortable although it hasn’t got very many more seats than the old lounge – they’re just spaced further apart.
In the meantime other travellers will just have to be grateful that they’ve got seats, some interesting new shops and duty free outlets and a snack bar.
Local art has been used for decoration. A painting by Tim Buchanan depicting travelling Polynesians graces the entrance to the departure lounge and Ted Nia sculptures adorn the concrete pillars.
There’s also a little stage for Jake (Numanga) to serenade everyone as they head off into the wide blue yonder.
Jake might actually have cause for a moan because in the old days he could sing to incoming and outgoing passengers from the same position. Now, however, he has to hop smartly from the arrival to the departure hall at the appropriate time. That’s progress for you.