Hawaii Airport Upgrades | Is Latest $36 Million Infusion Enough?

Hawaii Airports | Is Latest $36 Million Infusion Enough?

We never cease to be amazed at the state of disrepair at Hawaii airports. The lead photo is just one example from this week, in Honolulu Airport’s Terminal 2 at a Southwest Airlines boarding gate. Fortunately, we looked first before sitting down. It’s amazing to us that something like this is not repaired. Unfortunately this wasn’t isolated. Other seats nearby were also damaged, or worn out with torn fabric.

When we see the plans for airport upgrades, however, it looks like seating is not mentioned. This is a clear safety issue and does not create an image of Hawaii that we want departing passengers to have.

The Hawaii DOT announced this week that the FAA has awarded $30 million to them for improvements at Hawaii’s two major airports. Honolulu and Maui are to be the recipients. We can’t help but think that the $30 million is a drop in the bucket, in spite of comments from Hawaii DOT:

“This investment in our airports will allow us to continue to improve operational efficiencies, prioritize safety, security, and accessibility, and enhance the overall airport experience for visitors and residents.”

Here’s where the Hawaii DOT will spend the $30.6 million it just was awarded.

Honolulu Airport – $22,000,000. The funds invested in the state’s largest airport will be used once again to repair serious spalling in more concrete roadways. This time, it isn’t spalling on the HNL runway as recently occurred to nearly new concrete, but rather on an airport roadway. That is used by the Wiki Wiki shuttle service that connects the passenger terminals.

In addition, an expansion of passenger sidewalks that are inadequate in some places is planned, as well as “improvements to lighting and electrical systems at the Diamond Head Concourse.” The Diamond Head Concourse is located in Terminal 2 at HNL, which is used by all airlines other than Hawaiian Airlines.

Kahului Maui Airport – $8,600,000. This award, which supplements last year’s, will be used as part of the construction of a “new two-story security screening checkpoint facility at the south end of the ticket lobby (South TSA Checkpoint).” That long-planned facility at the state’s second-largest airport will include greatly improved TSA screening with six new lanes. In addition, a pedestrian bridge will be constructed above the existing service road that will provide a direct connection to the new checkpoint facility. The north TSA checkpoint will remain in operation. That checkpoint is also being upgraded by being enclosed and, at long last, air-conditioned.

Last year’s federal Hawaii airport investment also included Maui.

In 2023, the state received $22 million from the FAA for the additional work on the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at Maui’s Kahului Airport.

Last year, the state also received $10 million for the first phase of the ongoing HNL Terminal 2 roadway project.

Will these improvements be enough to set Hawaii’s airport on the right track to modernization? And what about that chair in the lead photo?

In the past year, HDOT worked closely with the TSA to bring in canine units to try and help with long security lines at OGG. Large tents were also put up as protection from the elements while passengers waited to be screened, and now those tents are used as shelter for anyone being picked up curbside.

The new south checkpoint waiting lobby, screening lanes, and TSA support spaces will be located on the second floor. Other airport support spaces and tenant retail opportunities will be on the ground floor.

A pedestrian bridge will connect the new south checkpoint at OGG to a passenger hold room and will span over an existing service road.

The new OGG project will pursue LEED Silver Certification for the building, looking to maximize energy-saving measures, like more efficient LED lighting and photovoltaic opportunities to offset energy consumption.

As part of the ongoing airport modernization plan, HDOT recently upgraded the baggage handling system in Lobby 2 at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, expanding the capacity to security-screen bags.

The OGG project will cost $62.3 million. Work is expected to begin in the summer of 2024 and to be completed by the end of 2025.

Pictures of where the work will be done at OGG can be found

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4 thoughts on “Hawaii Airports | Is Latest $36 Million Infusion Enough?”

  1. The number of travelers has grown faster than the improvements.
    Given the glacial speed of government, the improvements may never catch up.

  2. I endured the Honolulu airports ridiculous signage and confusion last October.
    I nearly missed boarding at Delta flight to L.A. because there was no sign and the TV overhead flight schedule wasn”t even listed. If it hadn’t been for the courtesy shuttle helping me, I’d still be stuck in that airports abyss! I hope to never see that airport again!

  3. While the “…new OGG project will pursue LEED Silver Certification for the building, looking to maximize energy-saving measures, like more efficient LED lighting and photovoltaic opportunities to offset energy consumption.” is all well and good, it doesn’t address the needs to modernize the airport itself. Torn seats, long wait times to get through security, etc. Put that money towards stuff that will actually make a difference.

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