Jetstar is launching flights between New Zealand and the Cook Islands from March next year.

The new route was announced on Wednesday with a special one-day sale offering fares for $129 one way from Auckland to Rarotonga and $169 from Wellington.

Regular lead-in fares are due to start from $219 between Auckland and Rarotonga.

Jetstar will offer three return services a week.

The airline said this will add about 25,000 new return seats a year to the Auckland-Rarotonga route.

Kiwi visitors represent 67 per cent of total arrivals into the Cook Islands.

Jetstar Head of New Zealand Grant Kerr said they will be the first new airline in more than 10 years to connect Auckland and Rarotonga.

He was confident the route would be popular for Kiwis and provide a boost to the Cook Islands economy.

“Whenever Jetstar enters a market our low fares help to grow that market,” Kerr said.

“We expect our new flights to Rarotonga will significantly lift passenger numbers from both New Zealand and Australia, delivering substantial benefits to Cook Islands tourism.”

All return flights will originate from Sydney or Melbourne and Jetstar will offer Australian travellers connecting fares to Rarotonga via Auckland.

Cook Islands Tourism general manager Graeme West said the new route would generate millions of dollars of revenue on the island.

“Tourism is the country’s main industry and the backbone of the economy, providing approximately 60 per cent of GDP,” he said.

“The spinoff for the nation and for local business of a new airline adding an additional 25,000 return seats a year will be fantastic.”

Services begin March 22, 2016, ahead of next year’s Easter break and the first school holidays.

Flights will operate three times a week departing Auckland on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.

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