Airport improvements continue

KAILUA-KONA — With a new year just around the corner, improvements at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole continue.

That includes ongoing modernization work and upcoming construction of an inspection facility at the region’s airport.

ADVERTISING


Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation said earlier this month that the terminal modernization project is about 70 percent complete.

Construction on that effort kicked off in March 2017 and is intended to improve a number of facets throughout the airport, improving travelers’ experience as well as streamlining operations.

That includes relocating checked-baggage screening operations away from the ticket lobbies and building a single, enclosed and air-conditioned 7-lane checkpoint.

The effort will also connect the north and south terminals to allow passengers to move freely throughout both for shopping and dining, Sakahara said.

At the time of the groundbreaking, DOT explained that the two terminals operate independently, meaning passengers must go through security a second time if they leave one and enter the other.

Sakahara said other improvements are planned for the concession area and restrooms.

The Flight Information Display System and public address system have been recently finished, he said, as has replacement of terminal flooring and drainage improvements.

The next big project planned is the permanent federal inspection station, for which construction is expected to begin late spring or early summer, Sakahara said.

Lawmakers in April OK’d $69 million to build a permanent federal inspection station, where passengers and baggage coming in from foreign countries can be screened. The funds will cover construction of that facility as well as a holdroom building and ground transportation and covered waiting area, according to news files.

In June it was reported that Honolulu-based Nan Inc. submitted the apparently low bid at $54.6 million.

Work is expected to take about 18 months, putting the completion date at late summer or early fall 2020.

The facility must be completed by the end of 2021 to meet a December 2016 agreement between the state and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That agreement allowed the airport to continue using for up to five years the white tent that currently houses the inspection station.

ADVERTISING


Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said that company’s work toward entering Hawaii is still ongoing.

He said Southwest is “in the final stages of an authorization dialogue” with the Federal Aviation Administration to run flights between Hawaii and the mainland, and once received, Southwest will have more details about schedules and fares.

  1. Buds4All December 31, 2018 10:04 am

    Yea those restrooms are bad, would not even let my dog use the hopper in there!


  2. Kaipo Wall December 31, 2018 4:27 pm

    Meanwhile , in reality-ville at KOA , ever greater numbers of flights keep coming in to insufficient numbers of gates at KOA . Entire planeloads of passengers are sometimes made to wait over an hour before they can get off the plane . Into this mess they plan to throw an additional carrier , Southwest? Excuse me , but no way they will fit . The puny little baggage claim carosels are completely overwhelmed as it is. No one , repeat , NO ONE gives the incoming tourists any information whatsoever . How about hiring roving Aloha greeters ? Give some young folks a shot at grass roots tourism customer service . All this screening stuff is merely for the benefit of the screeners . Almost no help to the general flow of incoming guests whatsoever. KOA needs an entirely new and additional terminal . 100%


  3. Kaipo Wall December 31, 2018 4:35 pm

    Another additional great need at Kona Airport , which is not being addressed at all , is the need to make a direct ocean access emergency boat ramp , right at Keahole Point . If an aircraft ever goes into the ocean upon take off from Kona ,hundreds will die from lack of the ability to rescue them. The nearest ocean rescue would have to dispatch from Honokohau harbor . Far too far away . Rescue boats , towing large rescue rafts , need to be able to be deployed within minutes of any aircraft ditchings into the ocean off of Kona . A spacious all weather concrete ramp and an attendant large raft boat shed need to be constructed . Direct roads leading from the existing KOA Fire-Rescue station to the boat launch ramp .


  4. seedubby January 4, 2019 1:46 am

    The idea of a nearby launch site for watercraft was included in our 2010 Master Plan, Environmental Assessment (EA) and Airport Layout Plan (ALP). The site simply described as “little gray beach” lies between Unualoha Point and Makolea Point. Our late fire commander Mervin Kahumoku, Lieutenant Shonne Sasaki and other ARFF team members were among those advocating for the site after their exploratory dives made into the surrounding waters. They reported the dangerous presence of underwater coral and rock outcroppings posing a threat to safe navigation of watercraft. Though on the generally calmer leeward side of the island, our coastline is especially treacherous during the winter season. The use of larger boats that could rescue a dozen persons priced out at more than $250K apiece excluding maintenance and trailering equipment. It would also require the construction and maintenance of a sizeable shoreline boat ramp requiring all weather engineering and lighting at significant cost. Access roadways inside the perimeter fenceline though marginally wide are in good shape. However, there is at least a mile of rough lava 4WD drive roadway that would have to be extended beyond the fenceline and paved to facilitate safe boat hauling. More cost.
    Instead our ARFF responders suggested the use of lighter jet ski’s to deploy a combination of floatation ramps and personal floatation devices. There would be no need to construct a boat ramp. If we can construct nearby storage, prevent vandalism and restrict certain shoreline access we could store skis, floatation devices, portable lighting and other response equipment nearby for rapid deployment. On airport helicopter tenants would be able to supplement flotation device deployment as able. That plan had been proposed to make its way through priorities. If approved we’d be the first airport outside of Honolulu to have a watercraft response.
    I agree that terminal conditions are indeed wanting. I’ve often summed it up this way. In 1970, when the airport opened, we carried 500K passengers annually. Nearly fifty years later we carry more than 3.2M, in the same footprint we did in 1970. In fact, we may actually be operating in a smaller footprint. We need to enlarge that footprint and increase circulation space. Our unique and often favored open air architecture becomes a liability during inclement weather, summer heat and airline irregular operations. A second level terminal has been proposed to be part of a 2nd phase of terminal improvements which must still be approved and funded. I’m happy to provide clean, air-conditioned spaces for our screeners. They have endured the worst of conditions throughout the nation. Try asking a TSA National Deployment Force (NDF) member. Who doesn’t wanna do a one-year stint in Hawaii? You might think twice about coming Kona. By building the new checkpoint I get a twofer; I keep screeners happy and coming to work while our customers enjoy air-conditioned comfort like they do everywhere else in the country. I also protect millions of dollars of screening equipment which don’t like corrosive salt air, rainwater and heat. Just yesterday the screening line stretched almost to the baggage claim. The reason? Downed screening equipment forcing lane closure and slow down.
    “Reality-ville” at KOA starts with an understanding how the airport system is financed and who decides project priorities. We are an enterprise fund that does not rely on the state general fund for finances. We have an obligation to be self-sustaining and therefore rely on revenues from landing fees, space rentals, parking, food & beverage, and other retail concession fees, rental car receipts and other business license fees. So, our revenue benefactors, namely the air carriers and concessionaires exercise great influence and say on what gets built, where and when. The present construction; and I agree this first phase is way less than we truly need; is the result of more than a decade of advocacy and planning. But better a meager first phase than nothing. Don’t worry about Southwest. They are coming and we are making it work. The overcrowding you witness is typical of peak operations at every airport. There are times during the operating day when the terminal is empty. They just don’t happen to be favorable times for airline marketers. If I had my way, I’d build a little Chiangi here in Kona. But I don’t. However, I can help direct your complaints about “puny” baggage claim areas and waits on airplanes; which by the way are not always due to the lack of gates; to the air carriers so they can support and approve much needed improvements. You can do the same too. Much has already been spent at Honolulu and Kahului with good and valid reason. We are now starting to see expenditures in Kona for which I am truly grateful. It’s been a long time coming and I won’t turn any of it down.
    By the way, service animals should always use the grass “hopper” animal relief areas just outside the restrooms inside or outside at the relief area across the street adjacent to the old car rental facility. Happy New Year everyone!
    Chauncey Wong Yuen, Hawaii Airports Disctrict Manager


  5. seedubby January 4, 2019 4:55 pm

    The idea of a nearby launch site for watercraft was included in our 2010 Master Plan, Environmental Assessment (EA) and Airport Layout Plan (ALP). The site simply described as “little gray beach” lies between Unualoha Point and Makolea Point. Our late fire commander Mervin Kahumoku, Lieutenant Shonne Sasaki and other ARFF team members were among those advocating for the site after their exploratory dives made into the surrounding waters. They reported the dangerous presence of underwater coral and rock outcroppings posing a threat to safe navigation of watercraft. Though on the generally calmer leeward side of the island, our coastline is especially treacherous during the winter season. The use of larger boats that could rescue a dozen persons priced out at more than $250K apiece excluding maintenance and trailering equipment. It would also require the construction and maintenance of a sizeable shoreline boat ramp requiring all weather engineering and lighting at significant cost. Access roadways inside the perimeter fence line though marginally wide are in good shape. However, there is at least a mile of rough lava 4WD drive roadway that would have to be extended beyond the fence line and paved to facilitate safe boat hauling. More cost.
    Instead our ARFF responders suggest the use of lighter jet skis to deploy a combination of floatation ramps and personal floatation devices. There would be no need to construct a boat ramp. If we can construct nearby storage, prevent vandalism, theft and restrict certain shoreline access we could store skis, floatation devices, portable lighting and other response equipment nearby for rapid deployment. On airport helicopter tenants would be able to supplement flotation device deployment as able. That plan had been proposed to make its way through priorities. If approved we’d be the first airport outside of Honolulu to have a watercraft response.
    I agree that terminal conditions are indeed wanting. I’ve often summed it up this way. In 1970, when the airport opened, we carried 500K passengers annually. Nearly fifty years later we carry more than 3.2M, in the same footprint we did in 1970. In fact, we may actually be operating in a smaller footprint. We need to enlarge that footprint and increase circulation space. Our unique and often favored open air architecture becomes a liability during inclement weather, summer heat and airline irregular operations. A second level terminal has been proposed to be part of a 2nd phase of terminal improvements which must still be approved and funded. I’m happy to provide clean, air-conditioned spaces for our screeners. They have endured the worst of conditions throughout the nation. Try asking a TSA National Deployment Force (NDF) member. Who doesn’t wanna do a one-year stint in Hawaii? But you might think twice about coming Kona. By building the new checkpoint I get a twofer; I keep screeners happy and coming to work while our customers enjoy air-conditioned comfort like they do everywhere else in the country. I also protect millions of dollars of screening equipment which don’t like corrosive salt air, rainwater and heat. Just yesterday the screening line stretched almost to the baggage claim. The reason? Downed screening equipment forcing lane closure and slow down.
    “Reality-ville” at KOA starts with an understanding how the airport system is financed and who decides project priorities. We are an enterprise fund that does not rely on the state general fund for finances. We have an obligation to be self-sustaining and therefore rely on revenues to operate from landing fees, space rentals, parking, food & beverage, and other retail concession fees, rental car receipts and other business license fees. So, our revenue benefactors, namely the air carriers and concessionaires exercise great influence and say on what gets built, where and when. The present construction; and I agree this first phase is way less than we truly need; is the result of more than a decade of advocacy and planning. But better a meager first phase than nothing. Don’t worry about Southwest. They are coming and we are making it work. The overcrowding you witness is typical of peak operations at every airport. There are times during the operating day when the terminal is empty. They just don’t happen to be favorable times for airline marketers. If I had my way, I’d build a “little Changi” right here in Kona. But I don’t. However, I can help direct your complaints about “puny” baggage claim areas and waits on airplanes; which by the way are not always due to the lack of gates; to the air carriers so they can support and approve much needed improvements. You can do the same too. Much has already been spent at Honolulu and Kahului with good and valid reason. We are now starting to see expenditures in Kona for which I am truly grateful. It’s been a long time coming and I won’t turn any of it down.
    By the way, service animals should always use the grass “hopper” animal relief areas just outside the restrooms inside or outside at the relief area across the street adjacent to the old car rental facility. Happy New Year everyone! Chauncey Wong Yuen, Hawaii Airports District Manager


  6. seedubby January 4, 2019 9:26 pm

    The idea of a nearby launch site for watercraft was included in our 2010 Master Plan, Environmental Assessment (EA) and Airport Layout Plan (ALP). The site simply described as “little gray beach” lies between Unualoha Point and Makolea Point. Our late fire commander Mervin Kahumoku, Lieutenant Shonne Sasaki and other ARFF team members were among those advocating for the site after their exploratory dives made into the surrounding waters. They reported the dangerous presence of underwater coral and rock outcroppings posing a threat to safe navigation of watercraft. Though on the generally calmer leeward side of the island, our coastline is especially treacherous during the winter season. The use of larger boats that could rescue a dozen persons priced out at more than $250K apiece excluding maintenance and trailering equipment. It would also require the construction and maintenance of a sizeable shoreline boat ramp requiring all weather engineering and lighting at significant cost. Access roadways inside the perimeter fence line though marginally wide are in good shape. However, there is at least a mile of rough lava 4WD drive roadway that would have to be extended beyond the fence line and paved to facilitate safe boat hauling. More cost.
    Instead our ARFF responders suggest the use of lighter jet skis to deploy a combination of floatation ramps and personal floatation devices. There would be no need to construct a boat ramp. If we can construct nearby storage, prevent vandalism, theft and restrict certain shoreline access we could store skis, floatation devices, portable lighting and other response equipment nearby for rapid deployment. On airport helicopter tenants would be able to supplement flotation device deployment as able. That plan had been proposed to make its way through priorities. If approved we’d be the first airport outside of Honolulu to have a watercraft response.
    I agree that terminal conditions are indeed wanting. I’ve often summed it up this way. In 1970, when the airport opened, we carried 500K passengers annually. Nearly fifty years later we carry more than 3.2M, in the same footprint we did in 1970. In fact, we may actually be operating in a smaller footprint. We need to enlarge that footprint and increase circulation space. Our unique and often favored open air architecture becomes a liability during inclement weather, summer heat and airline irregular operations. A second level terminal has been proposed to be part of a 2nd phase of terminal improvements which must still be approved and funded. I’m happy to provide clean, air-conditioned spaces for our screeners. They have endured the worst of conditions throughout the nation. Try asking a TSA National Deployment Force (NDF) member. Who doesn’t wanna do a one-year stint in Hawaii? But you might think twice about coming to Kona. By building the new checkpoint I get a twofer; I keep screeners happy and coming to work while our customers enjoy air-conditioned comfort like they do everywhere else in the country. I also protect millions of dollars of screening equipment which don’t like corrosive salt air, rainwater and heat. Just yesterday the screening line stretched almost to the baggage claim. The reason? Downed screening equipment forcing lane closure and slow down.
    “Reality-ville” at KOA starts with an understanding how the airport system is financed and who decides project priorities. We are an enterprise fund that does not rely on the state general fund for finances. We have an obligation to be self-sustaining and therefore rely on revenues to operate from landing fees, space rentals, parking, food & beverage, and other retail concession fees, rental car receipts and other business license fees. So, our revenue benefactors, namely the air carriers and concessionaires exercise great influence and say on what gets built, where and when. The present construction; and I agree this first phase is way less than we truly need; is the result of more than a decade of advocacy and planning. But better a meager first phase than nothing. Don’t worry about Southwest. They are coming and we are making it work. The overcrowding you witness is typical of peak operations at every airport. There are times during the operating day when the terminal is empty. They just don’t happen to be favorable times for airline marketers. If I had my way, I’d build a “little Changi” right here in Kona. But I don’t. However, I can help direct your complaints about “puny” baggage claim areas and waits on airplanes; which by the way are not always due to the lack of gates; to the air carriers so they can support and approve much needed improvements. You can do the same too. Much has already been spent at Honolulu and Kahului with good and valid reason. We are now starting to see expenditures in Kona for which I am truly grateful. It’s been a long time coming and I won’t turn any of it down.
    By the way, service animals should always use the grass “hopper” animal relief areas just outside the restrooms inside or outside at the relief area across the street adjacent to the old car rental facility. Happy New Year everyone! Chauncey Wong Yuen, Hawaii Airports District Manager


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.