Touching Bases: Five Hawaiian airports threatened

 - May 8, 2008, 6:41 AM

The governor of Hawaii, Benjamin Cayetano, has indicated five state-operated airports may close if contract operators cannot be found to administer them under acceptable terms. The five airports are Dillingham (HDH), an Army facility with a 9,007-ft runway leased back to the state for civilian operations located on the north end of Oahu; Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE) in Kamuela, with a 5,197-ft runway, and Upolu Airport (UPP), with a 3,800-ft runway, both on the Big Island of Hawaii; Kapalua Airport (JHM), with a 3,000-ft runway, on the northwest coast of Maui; and Port Allen Airport (PAK), with a 2,450-ft runway, in Hanapepe on the island of Kauai. The governor cited budget problems and lack of revenue from the airports (only Dillingham has a fuel farm, 11,000 gal of avgas and 3,000 gal of jet-A, most of which is used for glider-towing and skydiver-drop operations).

The deadline for bids to operate the VFR-only airports was late last month, with a decision as to their ultimate fate to come soon. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s v-p of airports, Anne Esposito, said closing the airports could be “a difficult and uphill battle. Some of those airports have accepted federal funding, which requires the state to keep them open.” According to AOPA, the five airports are also among 3,344 recognized by Congress under Title 90 US Code 47103 as being important to the national air transportation system.