Hawaii Flights Vexed Until 2024 | Massive Airport Problems

From Bad To Worse: Honolulu Airport Woes To Be Prolonged

Problems at Hawaii’s biggest airport return to the news again today. And, somehow we think this may not surprise many of you.

Runway 8L at Honolulu, the airport’s primary runway, returned to the spotlight after last week’s notice of emergency spalling repairs that are now ongoing and causing the diversion of flights to other runways. This happened after comprehensive repairs on 8L that we thought were completed.

Beat of Hawaii editor Jeff questioned Jimmy Tokioka about the runway status at yesterday’s Hawaiian Airlines/Alaska Airlines press conference. While the answer he received (below) was not entirely unexpected, it did raise concerns.

Jimmy Tokioka, is Director of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) and previously served as the Deputy Director for the Department of Transportation’s Airports Division. Thus, he is among the most knowledgeable officials when it comes to issues at Hawaii airports. Before that, Tokioka was a Kauai Council Member when he and BOH editors first met. He also was in the Hawaii State Legislature for 16 years.

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When we last wrote about the HNL runway repairs.

The runway repairs were expected to be completed on December 8, per an email we received from the Department of Transportation on November 29. In that unexpected development last week, the Hawaii DOT announced the immediate diversion of all aircraft arriving and departing at Honolulu International Airport (HNL) due to the discovery of spalling on primary Runway 8L.

The affected flights are being redirected to Runway 26L. The runway closure was anticipated to persist just until December 8, although we said at the time we suspected the distinct possibility of the state extending repairs beyond that date.

While HDOT assured us that the other three runways at HNL will remain operational, their capacity during peak hours has been reduced, and DOT forewarned travelers of potential flight delays. The department has been actively coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration and interisland carriers to mitigate potential disruptions to flight schedules caused by this situation.

The issue with Runway 8L follows a huge repair project that extended from fall 2022 through May 2023.

The runway underwent extensive reconstruction, involving the installation of a 1,000 lineal-foot stretch of Portland cement concrete at the threshold, coupled with 7,500 lineal feet of polymer-modified asphalt.

What is the cause of the sudden spalling on the newly reconstructed runway?

Tokioka said that the spalling resulted from inclement weather during the runway construction period starting last fall. HDOT disclosed that remediation work is required for 18 concrete panels within the touchdown area where the spalling became apparent. The removal and reconstruction of these panels will be conducted at no cost to the state. BOH confirmed with Tokioka that the repair was primarily funded by federal money anyway, and thus, the fact that Hawaii wasn’t paying for the repairs is largely irrelevant.

DOT said that the removal repairs can proceed even during wet weather, while warning that additional time may be necessary for concrete curing and other construction activities.

BOH: It isn’t clear to us why the construction can be done correctly this time, even in bad weather. That given that last time, such weather resulted in spalling that, in essence, destroyed a part of the newly installed runway concrete.

Spalling on airport runways, characterized by the breaking away of concrete surfaces, is attributed to various factors including chemicals, aging, moisture infiltration (particularly with inadequate drainage), and the impact of heavy loads. The recurrence of spalling raises concerns, especially given the significant investment – a nearly $100 million repair – made within the last year.

As the HDOT addresses the current runway challenges, travelers are urged to stay informed about potential flight disruptions and to adjust their plans accordingly.

So, just how long could the Honolulu Airport runway repair now take?

Tokioka indicated that far longer would be required to repair the concrete runway. He commented on the complexity of the repair, given that the concrete is up to three feet thick.

When Jeff attempted to ascertain a new time frame, Tokioka said one month was his thought. Could it go longer, Tokioka couldn’t say. Tokioka just estimated to Jeff that a minimum of four weeks would be needed to complete the repair. In that discussion, Tokioka said he wasn’t aware of exactly what methodology was being used to repair the runway, given the extreme depth of the concrete.

Tokioka reiterated that the problem was caused by moisture had entered the concrete as a result of rain, causing the spalling and necessitating significant repair.

Are you left wondering how this could have occurred, no matter the weather?

Certainly, rain in other places would present similar issues, yet we have not heard of such problems elsewhere.

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16 thoughts on “From Bad To Worse: Honolulu Airport Woes To Be Prolonged”

  1. I was booked for Maui last September. Canceled of course. Now booked Honolulu in May. Not booked flights yet.
    My Hawaiian dream fading every week. Disasters on planes to Hawaii. Airport woes. Trying to add penalties on tuirists to pay for Hawaii deficit. Now landing on planes. I have one month to cancel. I don’t know if this vacation what I had hoped for. .
    Seems tourists needed there but not as important as they once were.
    It’s heartbreaking decision.

  2. Just trying to figure out why you have not covered the major issues in Kona? to start out with the Parking is out-radius.
    There was a person by the name of uncle Billy owned 80 percent of the businesses and parking lots in Kona and since his passing his children have hired a property management company and have increased the business rent up to 3 times last year’s rate. The management company is also starting to charge business workers 200 dollars a month. All of the parking money does not go to Kona, it goes to a company out of town. They have closed the pier area down and even when cruise ships come in the passengers are taken away in vans to areas outside the Kona area. This city is dying fast, most restaurants and shops are empty.


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