Hawaii airports need to boost protection
An incident Sunday at Honolulu Airport was the second time a vehicle was able to breach security in Hawaii.
A SECOND incident in which a vehicle plowed into a Hawaii airport terminal
begs the question of sufficient security at the state's facilities. Although no one was hurt in the breach Sunday at Honolulu's interisland terminal, the episode shows how vulnerable the airport is to someone intent on doing harm. Authorities need to correct the problem immediately not only in Honolulu, but at all of the state's airports.
Last year, after a man drove a sport utility vehicle into a Kahului ticketing terminal and set it on fire, planters and other barriers were installed to prevent another occurrence there. Barriers also were installed in areas at Honolulu Airport, but not on ground-floor facilities because officials reasoned that pillars and walls provided enough security.
However, on Sunday a man was able to ram a compact car through automatic glass doors at the interisland baggage claim area in the street-level terminal.
As they did in Kahului last year, state and federal transportation officials said security would be expanded in Honolulu and that concrete barriers likely will be placed in front of ground-level doors.
State officials say they must balance security measures against hindering access for wheelchairs and presenting an inhospitable image at the airport. These are not mutually exclusive, and providing air passengers with safe facilities is indispensable to the state's tourism economy.
In the incident on Sunday, the man drove a small car up the slope of a curbside wheelchair ramp, broke through the terminal doors, then maneuvered the vehicle for about 100 yards past baggage carousels and kiosks before stopping and getting out of the car. There were few passengers in the claim area at the time, and the car was moving slowly. Fortunately, no one was injured.
What the driver's intentions were are unclear, but had he meant to inflict greater damage or wreak havoc, he certainly was in place to do so.
Much of the emphasis for security at airports has been focused on passenger screening and preventing vehicles from stopping for long periods at curbs. Before the incident in Kahului, officials had not anticipated such breaches. However, under current circumstances, corrective measures should be taken.
The two disturbances should be considered fair warning that the worst can happen.
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