After $2.3B, Hawaii Airports Land at Bottom In US Rankings

Not Again! Latest Hawaii Airport Runway Closure Impacting Flights Until June

Lo and behold, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) once again announced an urgent runway closure for repair needed at Honolulu Airport (HNL). Scheduled to begin immediately, this repair work is expected to impact HNL operations significantly over the coming weeks.

HNL Airport Runway 4R-22L closed until June 7 or longer.

Just in time for the start of the busy summer season, it’s been two years since this runway was last closed. From past experience, runway repairs here take longer than expected. Mainland flights will have priority during the closure. That means interisland flights may once again be delayed as they were in previous runway repairs.

HDOT said that it expects the bulk of the issues to impact travelers during morning to early afternoon hours daily (i.e. most of the day).

This announcement adds to a growing list of troubling, abrupt maintenance actions across Hawaii airports, which have intermittently disrupted operations and prompted concerns about the efficacy and foresight of HDOT’s infrastructure management capabilities.

Pattern of Urgent Repairs at Hawaii airports.

So far this year, a series of other urgent runway repairs at multiple airports has caused frustration and raised questions regarding the HDOT’s overall maintenance strategy. From unexpected closures at Honolulu International to the abrupt shutdown at Kona Airport, and runway issues at Maui Airport extending through June, the frequency and nature of these incidents suggest a reactive rather than proactive approach to Hawaii airport infrastructure management.

Findings based on incidents, audits, fleet age and aircrew training. Just one US airline with flights to Hawaii made the top 10.

Recent Incidents at Hawaii airports have included these.

Honolulu International Airport: A sudden need to redirect flights due to concrete spalling on recently renovated Runway 8L disrupted operations significantly. That was less than a year ago in November 2023. The major repair of this runway had only been completed less than a year prior, bringing into question issues with the quality or durability of the work that was done. Given the concerns about the relationships between Hawaii officials and contractors, this raises even more questions.

It is worth noting that the same runway undergoing closure and repair now, was also closed for additional repairs less than two years ago.

Kona Airport Closed Due To Runway Cracking

Kona Airport: Cracks on Runway 17/35 led to a halt of operations, a decision announced with minimal notice, reflecting an underestimation of the runway’s deterioration, a lack of transparency or something else.

Maui Airport: The prolonged maintenance and closure of Kahului Airport’s primary Runway 2-20 has been another recurrent theme. Scheduled night-time repairs have extended into operational hours, hinting at possible planning oversights. This is now scheduled to go through June.

Impact on Hawaii flight operations.

The unpredictability of these repairs at our airports that are incredibly important to Hawaii visitors and residents is troubling at best. Repairs have not only inconvenienced passengers but also complicated logistics for airlines, which depend on reliable schedules to manage Hawaii flights efficiently.

Between issues impacting flights at Kona and the intermittent closure on Maui, together with the other airports, have cascaded disruptions from just one location to the state’s entire airport infrastructure, clearly pointing to broader implications of runway maintenance.

Hawaii’s lack of communication and coordination.

A striking aspect of this latest event is the lack of advance notice from HDOT, which seems all to frequently to leave both travelers and airlines scrambling as they did with this news today. The agency’s communication strategy—or the lack thereof—makes one wonder about its commitment to transparency.

Recurring nature of HDOT’s airport maintenance strategy.

The number of these issues points to what appears to be gaps in HDOT’s maintenance planning and execution. Despite Hawaii’s challenging weather conditions, which undoubtedly accelerate runway wear and tear, the frequency of these problems leaves us perplexed, and thinking that something needs to improve in terms of the both the quality of work and the planning for maintenance.

The runway issues at Hawaii’s airports are more than just an inconvenience.

They undeniably signify deeper and systemic issues within HDOT’s management of airport infrastructure. For a state so heavily reliant on air travel, the effectiveness of Hawaii airport operations is essential for safety and for the economy.

The case for an independent Hawaii airport authority.

Hawaii is one of only a three states without an independent airport authority. The persistent issues with runway maintenance and a myriad of other Hawaii airport problems continues to bring into focus the need many commenters have suggested for an independent Hawaii airport authority.

Unlike the current responsibility for airports being within the Hawaii Department of Transportation, an independent airport authority would provide focus and dedicated resources just for airport operations and maintenance. Many states and countries have adopted this model, which leads to better management of airport facilities.

The autonomy provides for quicker decisions, better operational strategy, and more accountability and transparency with the public and airlines. It seems that establishing an authority in Hawaii would be a positive step in reducing problems and improving Hawaii airport infrastructure.

HDOT press release 4/30/24.


HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) will temporarily close Runway 4R-22L at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport at Honolulu (HNL) for 37 calendar days starting from 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 through Friday, June 7, 2024. During this continuous closure, Runways 8L-26R, 8R-26L, and 4L-22R will remain available for arrivals and departures.

The closure to the runway is needed to perform runway shoulder paving and drainage work to maintain airfield compliance with current Federal Aviation Administration standards. All work is weather permitting; should additional time be needed, HDOT will update this notice.

Travelers may experience delays on interisland flights departing to HNL during peak hours from mid-morning to early afternoon as transpacific arrivals are prioritized for arrivals due to the reduced runway capacity. Additionally, increased noise may be experienced in surrounding neighborhoods due to the rerouting of aircraft. HDOT appreciates the community’s patience and understanding while the needed work is conducted to continue safe operations at HNL.”

Should Hawaii have an independent airport authority? Do you have any further suggestions to keep Hawaii airports running smoothly?

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12 thoughts on “Not Again! Latest Hawaii Airport Runway Closure Impacting Flights Until June”

  1. Nice journalism, this was refreshing to see. The issue at hand was respectfully called into question, the importance was delivered, the history was explained and the unacceptable behavior brought into view for all to see. Vote accordingly and demand the future change. Hawaiians deserve better protection of their economic engine and quality of life.

  2. Once again the state has neglected much needed infrastructure for its people. It is really shame that these things continue to happen on so many levels.

  3. Just a thought BOH. I see your topic starts with Not Again. Is there a possibility that you could insert a cut and paste option button for those who have hundreds of posted comments so our fingers don’t have to work so hard and enable us to get some work done. I also thank you for the treatment of arthritis of the fingers but please don’t send me a bill. The regular’s might just thank you.

  4. I’m a private General aviation pilot who used John Wayne SNA. For 25 years to commute to various construction projects in South CA. That 5700′ foot runway needs to be available 7am-11pm daily for commercial aircraft. The shorter runway 2886′ is only for smaller GA aircraft. They keep up the maintenance with aggressive care. I was a concrete contractor so not sure what Hawaiian airports utilize. I’ve only seen asphalt. Some paving experts should adjust the materials to stand up to the weather. My experience with below grade soil issues might need some geotechnical engineering that might alter the sub structure to create a more long lasting paving for your on site conditions. John

  5. This is absolutely ridiculous! HDOT is totally mismanaged and incompetent. Hawaii has the most dysfunctional state government agencies of all 50 states. There’s no excuse for this kind of sloppy management of critical aviation operations in a state that is very dependent upon reliable air transportation. Disgusting news that gets worse everyday from Hawaii’s government agencies at all levels. The citizens of Hawaii need to clean house immediately.

    1. House cleaning is decades overdue, but it won’t be happening. It looks like the majority of Hawai’i voters love their incompetent one-party government, experienced at taking taxpayer’s money without having to deliver anything in return.

  6. The way HDOT makes airport related decisions appears to be heavily influenced by politicians and lobbyists.
    For example, the Lihue airport has not been in compliance with FAA rules for over 15 years now.

  7. Perhaps the severity of these preexisting issues can’t be ignored any longer and the proverbial “kicking the can down the runway” method of dealing with them has hit the terminal wall and the FAA has told the state “Do it or Else”… Then of course I’m the Suspicious type anyway when it comes to our state’s secretive modus operandi…

    Best Regards

  8. Hello Beat of Hawaii Team,

    In addition to the runway repairs, I have been trying to pursue action on terminal improvements across the State’s airports. I have written several letters but No Responses. Your comment about the HDOT’s ‘lack of transparency’ .. almost feels like they are trying to protect an outdated agency structure (people, process, past decisions, etc..). Time for a third party agency .. fully agree ! In my past, I have seen tremendous efforts by third parties (eg : PDX and SLC – led by Bill Wyatt). We need this in the state NOW ! – Bring Hawaii Pride to our airports (rather than the 1970’s utilitarian approch).. even La Guardia is now a place you want to go to !

    1. No Spam Musubi to be found in Hawaii Airports. It is really odd why we cannot leverage our local vendors to set up shop in our airports? Why is the HDOT so tied in with mainland concessions .. only and does not allow local brands to ‘showcase’ our foodie pride to kamainas and malihinis .. I can but a spam musubi as Wajis in Sea-Tac airport but no where in HNL is is found ! very sad. We have pride in our state to share (arts, food, music, love) to share but it is lost in our airports … recommending we bring it alive through a citizen’s partnership with the HDOT … have our Ohana share with creativity … creativity and innovation is definitely lacking in the passenger exprience at our airports. lets hold hands to improve

  9. I’m sorry guys, but this might just be the understatement of the decade:

    “the frequency and nature of these incidents suggest a reactive rather than proactive approach to Hawaii airport infrastructure management.”

    That pretty much sums up Hawaii infrastructure management as a whole. There’s a Hawaiian word that pretty much explains all of this: hāwāwā (incompetence). We have no shortage of truly bright and talented people in this state, but it seems none of them can be found where they could do the most good.

  10. Giving an organization that cannot even keep the highways around All of the Hawaiian Islands in just reasonably good shape the responsibilities for maintaining airport runways is just *@?&!! Way past time for a separate airport authority that is Not run by anyone currently associated with any office within the state of Hawaii is what is required. When it comes to airport runways, HST (Hawaiian Slow Time) should not even be considered an option as to how fast and well the work gets done either!

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