Monday, November 19, 2012

Hawaii Airports

Going to Hawaii? I am in December and can’t wait.

I will fly into Honolulu (HNL) and land on the Reef Runway, which last month celebrated its 35th birthday. It was built in 1977 at a cost of $81 Million and was the first major airport runway to be built just off shore on underwater coral. The runway is 12,000 feet long which made it capable of being an alternative landing site for the Space Shuttle. It was never used for that and now, never will be.

Factoids, you might like to know? The runway consists of nearly 20 million cubic yards of material brought in via hydraulic pumping from offshore. There is an additional 16 million pounds of stone used to protect the runway from the Pacific Ocean.

I love landing and taking off from this runway. I also like the one at Lihue (LIH)on Kauai and the black lava runway at Kona (KOA)on the Big Island. They all three say to me: ‘You’re Here!’

Lihue was not the first airport on Kauai, that was Burns Field near Hanapepe. Hawaiian Airlines started commercial flights there in 1929. You know flying was a real adventure in those days.

Kona is the only airport that does not use a jetway. You climb up and down a stairway like in the old days. I do love that black lava. I have never flown in to the other airport on the Big Island, Hilo (ITO), but some day I must.

Speaking of HNL, big changes are coming starting next June. That is when a $600 Million renovation is to start. The changes:

A new eleven-gate L-shaped “Mauka concourse” which will support larger planes located next to the inter-island terminal.

Demolition and relocation of the commuter terminal (used primarily by Go!Mokelele and Island Air) to the opposite site of the airport (adjacent to UAL). The current HNL commuter terminal is not directly connected with the other terminals and is only accessible via a long walk and escalator/stairs from the adjacent Hawaiian Air terminal.

A new multi-story car rental facility. The five-level 2,250 stall operation will replace the current single level car rental area and will increase car rental space by more than double.

HNL opened in 1927 and was originally named John Rodgers Airport.

Last year HNL handled nearly 20 Million passengers. By comparison DIA routinely handles 50 Million.

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