Maui Business

Airport Corporation Bill Fails to Pass Legislature

April 29, 2017, 6:53 AM HST
* Updated April 29, 6:55 AM
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Kahului Airport, controll tower. Photo by Wendy Osher.

A bill that sought to create an airport corporation to manage Hawaiʻi’s 15 airports, failed to make it out of the State Legislature by Friday’s deadline.

Senate Bill 658 had gained strong support from the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation and several other airport stakeholders.

Hawaiʻi DOT director Ford Fuchigami responded to the measure’s unsuccessful bid saying he is disappointed that it did not survive this legislative session.

“An airport corporation would have added efficiency and reduced redundancy, which would have helped construction projects finish faster. Airport management does not have control over the decision making that would deliver first class airports. Without systematic changes the public should not expect significant changes at our airports. That said we will continue to manage with the resources we have available for the 34 million passengers who fly to and from Hawaiʻi’s 15 airports each year.”

Fuchigami thanked Attorney General Doug Chin for working on the measure with the deartment and said he will continue to work with the legislature to address any concerns with the issue.  “We will not give up on making a difference,” he said.

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AG Chin credit Director Fuchigami with “thinking outside the box” in trying to solve airport related issues. “Taking the state out of airport management is a complex idea with a variety of factors. It is not uncommon for huge changes like this to take time before gaining final approval,” he said.

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Blaine Miyasato, Co-chair of the Airlines Committee of Hawaiʻi also commented saying, “Like the traveling public we want Hawaiʻi to have world class airports, but SB658’s failure to move forward will now set us all back.”  The Airlines Committee of Hawaiʻi is made up of 20 signatory air carriers that contribute more than half of the state airport system budget.

Jim Stone, Airport Concessionaires Committee, which represents the retailers, restaurants and businesses that operate at Hawaiʻi’s airports also weighed in saying, “Let’s be honest and not just critical. Without fundamental changes our airports will not improve. Without an airport corporation, the Airports Division will do the best it can, but don’t expect things to drastically improve.”

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