The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has teamed up with a local airport group to help stave off another attempt to shutter a general aviation facility—this time Dillingham Airfield in Oahu, Hawaii. The airfield, which has a 9,007-foot runway, is expected to close on June 30, 2021, and the Save Dillingham Airfield group recently expressed concerns that the state of Hawaii is planning to take preliminary steps toward that end in January.
“For more than nine months now, AOPA and the Save Dillingham Airfield group have tried to provide solutions to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, all of which include preserving the airfield as a joint civilian-military-use facility,” said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA Western Pacific regional manager. “Unfortunately, Hawaii DOT has continued to move forward with their plans to prematurely exit out of their FAA Airport Improvement Program obligations and the lease with the U.S. Army, inevitably killing off the businesses and jobs at the now-thriving airfield,” she said. The airport lease would have expired in 2025.
AOPA noted that the airport is used for flying lessons, skydiving, and glider rides, contributing $12 million to the state economy and supporting 130 jobs. But during the pandemic, it has taken on even greater importance as economic forecasts suggest the state might not recover until after 2023, AOPA said. The organization quoted a recent broadcast of a state senator who said it would be a “travesty" should Hawaii follow through with its plans regarding the airfield.
McCaffrey called the next eight to 12 weeks critical, urging airport activists “to be geared up and ready to assist.”