Maui Business

Preliminary Data: 5,863 Passengers Arriving Daily to Kahului, Maui

By JD Pells
May 31, 2021, 10:00 AM HST
* Updated June 1, 9:59 AM
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Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021
Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Photo by JD Pells

The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation encourages anyone flying into or out of Hawaiʻi airports to expect a busy summer travel season.

Statewide, preliminary visitor statistics show an average of 22,236 passengers arriving daily in Hawaiʻi so far in May, which is approximately 70% of pre-COVID numbers, according to data compiled by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism.

Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Photo by JD Pells
Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Photo by JD Pells

Here on Maui, May numbers are currently approaching pre-pandemic levels for the same period (May 1-27) in 2018 and 2019. The DBEDT preliminary data shows that so far in May, there’s an average of 5,956 passengers arriving daily to Kahului Airport on domestic (including mainland and interisland) flights, down 5% (274 fewer passengers) from two years ago in 2019, and up 1%(104 more passengers) from three years ago in 2018.

Last month, Maui’s visitor spending was $316.3 million. There were 178,105 visitors on Maui compared to 647 visitors in April 2020. For the first four months of 2021, visitor spending was $985.5 million. Arrivals decreased 15.8% to 508,388 visitors.

For the first four months of 2021, total visitor spending for the state was $2.33 billion, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. A total of 1,331,115 visitors arrived in the first quarter of 2021, down 37.5% compared to the same period a year ago.

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*The DBEDT data for May is updated daily and currently reflects the period from May 1 through May 25. The DBEDT notes that dates in past years were adjusted to the closest comparable weekday of the current year. The public can track daily arrivals via the DBEDT Daily Passenger Count dashboard here.

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The Big Island of Hawaiʻi is also showing an increase in travel for the month of May with an average of 2,651 passengers arriving daily on the Big Island. Passenger counts this May have surpassed pre-COVID levels by about 1% for both 2018 and 2019.

Travel to Kauaʻi is still lower than pre-pandemic levels, with a daily passenger count of 1,529. This month, the Garden Isle’s daily travelers are down 29% compared to 2018 and 33% compared to 2019.

On Oʻahu, there’s an average of 11,729 passengers arriving daily this May–that’s down 11% from 2019, and down 4% from 2018.

Travel Tips from Department of Transportation

Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Post-arrival COVID-19 testing stations. Photo by JD Pells
Kahului Airport: May 29, 2021. Post-arrival COVID-19 testing stations. Photo by JD Pells
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Given the current trends, HDOT offers the following air travel tips:

  • Plan for peak travel time. Peak time for arrivals at Hawaiʻi airports is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If your flight time is within that window, plan and prepare using the tips below.
  • Consider getting a ride to the airport. Parking historically fills up quickly on long holiday weekends. Last Sunday, May 23, only 7% of the 1,500 parking stalls at Kahului Airport were available.
  • Arrive at the airport ahead of time. The Transportation Security Administration recommends arriving more than two hours prior to departure and checking baggage to save time at security checkpoints. Additional TSA tips can be found here.
  • Practice safe travel at the airports. The statewide indoor mask mandate applies at all Hawaii airports, inside, or outside while on property. The mask must be worn regardless of an individual’s vaccination or COVID testing status. Travelers should also be prepared to wear a face-covering onboard their flights and are encouraged to check with their air carrier for information on their COVID protocols.
  • Know what to do when you travel interisland. A Safe Travels account is needed for trips to islands other than Oahu. Visit https://travel.hawaii.gov/#/ to create an account. Once documentation (e.g., either your vaccination card meeting the requirements of the vaccination exemption, trusted test results, or acknowledgment of the quarantine order) has been uploaded you will receive a QR code to show screeners to expedite your post-arrival screening.
  • All travelers should visit HawaiiCovid19.com for the latest travel guidance. HDOT advises that the use of an airline participating in the State of Hawaiʻi Pre-Departure Document Check program can expedite this process. Airlines voluntarily participating in PDDC can validate Safe Travels approved COVID tests and Travel and Health Forms or assist travelers in completing quarantine paperwork. Once validated, a PDDC passenger can depart from the airport after deplaning subject to any requirements of the county. Travelers that do not participate in PDDC must undergo verification of their Safe Travel documentation at Hawaiʻi airports.
JD Pells
JD is a multimedia journalist from Kula, HI. He is currently earning his degree in journalism at Texas Christian University.
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