The next phase of the long-awaited airport modernization project was launched on O’ahu today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The single-story commuter airline terminal at the Ewa end of the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be torn down and a new 220 million dollar facility built in its place. Governor David Ige says the project was stalled but is now on track.
“The modernization project was approved more than 8 years ago and then it sat. And, so, we were committed to really getting through all of the challenges, moving people out, working through all of the delays and all of the barriers that prevented the project from moving in the past to get to the point that we break ground and move the project forward.”
The new two-level Mauka Concourse will have 260-thousand square feet of space, will be able to handle larger aircraft, and will be connected with a walkway to the interisland Terminal One. There are 300-thousand take offs and landings at the airport each year and Senate President, Ron Kouchi, says the new concourse will definitely ease congestion.
“We have planes that land that can’t get to jet-ways because of the overcrowding, sitting on the tarmac sometimes for an additional 30 minutes after a 20-minute flight. So many of us need to come here to O’ahu and so this is gonna be much needed and very welcome.”
Senator Kouchi also vowed to continue to push for legislation to establish an airport corporation, a semi-autonomous authority that can approve projects and spending without legislative oversight. The Senate passed the measure over the last 3 sessions but the bills failed in the House of Representatives. Big Island Senator, Lorraine Inouye, chairs the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee and supports the bill.
“The airport corporation would be self-sustaining since it creates its own funding but it certainly would streamline the process because, as we know, when it’s controlled under the state government, that you have so many layers of oversight going from agencies to agencies, which is unnecessary.”
Airport construction, operations and maintenance are not funded using state general funds or taxpayer money. Blaine Miyasato, co-chair of the Airlines Committee of Hawai’i, says 23 airlines contribute more than half of airport revenues.
“It’s about 520 million a year, so, roughly 270 of that is airline revenue, the other half is concessions and all of the revenue that comes from that business. But, probably what’s most significant is, if we don’t have revenue, the airlines are on the hook to make up that difference. So, truly, the airlines underwrite the system in general.”
Demolition of the one-story commuter terminal will take four months, with construction of the new Mauka Concourse starting before the end of the year and scheduled for completion in 2020. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.