On Thursday, July 28, at 8 AM Hawaii time, you can take part in planning the future of Lihue (LIH) Airport on Kauai. It’s easy to sign up here and the public is welcome.
Planning for Kauai airport modernization.
Sponsored by the Lihue Business Association, the webinar will address upcoming planned changes for the 9-gate airport. This year the state approved $6.7 million for ticket lobby and gate area improvements. But what about adding more gates with increased traffic? That’s part of the discussion for this meeting.
The airport plan goes back nearly 40 years and is past due for updating. Currently, there’s a massive shortage of parking, limited passenger areas, and poor air conditioning. When delays occur, this gets even worse since there’s nowhere to accommodate travelers. Also, gates back get backed up, with planes having to wait on the tarmac for prolonged durations.
The proposal from the state DOT was to expand the number of gates by three. That, however, has received widespread community pushback. It is due mainly to the fear that more gates will mean more flights resulting in more visitors that the island’s deficient infrastructure is incapable of handling.
The state is forecasting 4.5 million annual Kauai passengers.
At the upcoming webinar, we’ll all learn about this essential plan and the DOT vision for accommodating the enormous visitor load. There will be time allotted for your questions and answers.
We could not find recent state data on Lihue passenger count, but we believe it to be approximately 3 million. That has increased at least tenfold in the past 50 years. But, the island has done little to keep up its infrastructure to accommodate that growth. It is unclear how Kauai airport and the island can increase their capacity to accommodate additional tourism.
The speaker will be Ross Higashi, Deputy Director, Airports Division, Hawaii Department of Transportation. Accompanying him will be Craig Davis, Kauai Airports District Manager, Davis Yogi, the airport administrator, and others, including members of the state legislature. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Governor Ige attend as well. He also opposed the gate expansion plan and called that aspect “tone deaf.”
Please share your experiences at Kauai’s airport and what you think should come next for LIH.