Hawaii Flights Vexed Until 2024 | Massive Airport Problems

Hawaii Flights Vexed Until 2024 By Massive Airport Problems

What do Hawaii road repairs and an airport runway out service since 2022 have to do with one another? Apparently, in Hawaii, at least, quite a lot. When we first wrote about Hawaii flight delays due to airport issues in November, we had been led to believe that the problems would conclude in 2023. Apparently not so, according to the officials in charge.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation says this.

It is slamming the breaks on all other projects for now since it cannot seem to get a critical runway repaired at the state’s largest airport.

Runway 8L had to be reconstructed to make sure we can land larger jets on it safely for the state. We put all of the asphalt binder in the state behind this one project which means that all of the other state projects, county projects and even private projects are on hold until this project is done. — Ed Sniffen, Director, Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Hawaiian Airlines told us the problem has disproportionately impacted interisland flights.

We have learned first-hand that those flights have gate holds, which delay those arrivals at Honolulu Airport. That is done to prioritize mainland and international flight arrivals.

On recent flights, your editors experienced just that. Flights leave the departure gate on time, then stop after leaving but before the runway. The flights have been placed on a gate hold to delay arrival in Honolulu.

The HNL runway project is the largest ever.

The only thing of this magnitude previously was the 1977 Reef Runway addition. This project adds 50 feet to the runway width, bringing it to 200 feet. It came directly after adding the odd new Mauka Concourse, which cost more than one-quarter billion dollars.

Honolulu Airport Runway Repairs

This provides unrestricted operations for Boeing 747-800 and Airbus A380 aircraft. Those represent an insignificant percentage of the flights at HNL, yet the disruption impacts all.

Design firm Orion said, “The principal goal is to allow unrestricted Aircraft Design Group VI aircraft operations on Runway 8L-26R.” The designation of Aircraft Design Groups is as follows:

  • III Boeing 737, Airbus A320
  • IV Boeing 767, Airbus A310
  • V Boeing 777 /787, Airbus A330
  • VI Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380

As a result of the above project, which is indeed huge, and is facing unexpected delays, the state has put a hold on projects, including Kauai highway repairs and resurfacing island-wide and the dismal road to Waimea Canyon, where shockingly dangerous potholes abound.

Honolulu also faces a halt on projects, including the H-1 freeway rehabilitation and the Likelike Highway repairs. Big Island has a hold on a variety of highway and road projects.

Kauai State Representative Nadine Nakamura said, “We understand the work at the airport is being done 24/7, seven days a week, and they are trying to expedite that project, so we just hope that they do everything they can.” Reading between the lines, she clearly lacks confidence in their ability to complete the work on time.

The problems associated with the runway have been ongoing for eight months, and there is no indication of when the work will be done.

The Department of Transportation claims it’s out of their control.

DOT director Sniffen said that issues, not of their making had hamstrung them. He said that due to Kona (southerly) winds, for example, if work had continued, it would have prevented planes from landing in Honolulu. We aren’t sure if that is the case, but we look forward to our HNL pilot friends validating that information as correct.

When will this runway ever get completed?

Sniffen said that the current phase is expected to be completed in about a week, but what that includes isn’t clear. It is being reported that the overall runway repair project will not be concluded until early next year if all goes according to plan. So far, that hasn’t been the case. The public, and the airlines, have never known what to expect, and the lack of appropriate regular communication from the Department of Transportation is abhorrent and shocking.

Hawaiian Airlines is impacted far more than other airlines.

The delays have been the primary cause for Hawaiian Airlines losing its decade-long number-one rating for U.S. on-time performance. Several comments have noted that, until 20 years ago, HAL meant “Hawaiian Always Late.” And, this time, due to no fault of their own, that acronym, at least for now, may apply again.


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16 thoughts on “Hawaii Flights Vexed Until 2024 By Massive Airport Problems”

  1. During work on 8L-26R, flights landing on 4L-22R and 4R-22L cannot cross 8L-26R while landing. The crossing point is on the north portion of 8L-26R. So, aircraft that can stop in the available distance can still land on the 4-22 runways in northerly winds, when aircraft land towards the north. But in southerly winds, the runways must be used in the opposite direction, and the crossing point does not allow adequate stopping distance. So working on 8L-26R in southerly winds would have meant that all four runways except for 8R-26L (reef runway) would have been closed. Squeezing all operations into one runway would have been undoable with the amount of traffic and mix of aircraft types. So no they couldn’t do the work in south winds.

  2. Total mismanagement by DOT!! Look at the light rail boondoggle and how is that going? They can build casinos in Vegas quicker that working on the runway. All Hawaiian tax payers, airlines and unions need to hold everyone of the do nothing but give excuses politicians the boot.

  3. I could understand the need if A380s or B747-800s were going to be in continuous production but neither of those planes have good futures

  4. Spending so much and creating a building shortage is interesting due to the fact that Hawaii would like fewer visitors to the Islands. Should accommodating the largest planes be a high priority?

  5. More direct flights to other islands is reasonable. Don’t use Honolulu as a hub. Flights go to Kona or Maui. Then transfer to smaller planes to Honolulu. Or the fight ends at Kona or Maui.

  6. This whole situation is contrived and is a classic example of the corruption and incompetence-IMO-of Hawaii DOT and HNL airport management. I flew B-747’s out HNL base for 20+ years and we Never had any problems with RW 8L or 8R. The USAF has been doing the same out of Hickham for decades = no problems.

    Any reconstruction of these runways for “safety” is bogus,IMO. Someone is getting paid off via the contracts let for a Huge and non-essential $$$$$$ project.

  7. May be bad timing, now that Hawaii wants to get less visitors. So a new runway for bigger planes to be completed by 2024? Hum …

  8. Why does private work have to stop or really any other work for that matter? Is there a shortage of building materials in HI and is the runway going to be using that much?

    1. Patrick, you have been on here bashing Hawaiian if I’m not mistaken. Your comment about 8L explains it…you are unfamiliar with Hawaii.
      8L is the primary runway and pivotal to the airport operations.

      1. Actually you are mistaken…
        That being said I asked about runway work and a possible material shortage and that was somehow construed as bashing Hawaiian?
        And I know all about the runway situation at HNL. Based on the statement by Ed Sniffen “We put all of the asphalt binder in the state behind this one project which means that all of the other state projects, county projects and even private projects are on hold until this project is done.” So there does appear to be a shortage of materials. So much so that any other asphalt work, on any island (even private work), has to come to a stand still until the project can be completed.

        1. Right you are Patrick and my apologies! I read using as used that much! I’m pretty quick to defend Hawaii and Hawaiian due to some pretty crass attacks on HA by some SWA folks on here but missed the boat on this one!

          1. NP…
            I flew Hawaiian LAX – HNL – LIH and it was a great flight. The crew was Really good as well. They made the flight.
            I like SWA as I have a companion pass ( 2 for 1 flying) but when it comes to flying to HI, Hawaiian has way more seat options than SWA does.

  9. Haven’t Boeing and Airbus discontinued production of these models? Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380, I recall 380’s being scrapped, and I think yhe end of the 747 production has occurred already too.

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