Electrical fault darkens Maui runway


POSTED: Friday, December 26, 2008

KAHULUI, Hawaii » Five passenger flights from the mainland were unable to land at Maui's Kahului Airport when runway lights failed to turn on Wednesday.


;[Preview]    Passengers Stuck At Maui Airport On Christmas  

About a 1,000 passengers are at home after they were stuck at the Kahului Airport on Christmas Eve due to runway light failure.


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The flights were diverted to Oahu, where they landed at Honolulu Airport, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.


At least one other flight was unable to take off from Maui on Wednesday before night fell, Gregor said.

The problem was caused by an electrical shortage at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and the lights were not repaired until about 11 p.m. that night, said Tammy Mori, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

“;The airport authority fixed the system late last night (Wednesday), so everything is fine now,”; Gregor said.

The five diverted flights returned to Maui after the lights were fixed, either overnight or during the day yesterday, Mori said.

The Maui Fire Department confirmed that both runways were operating yesterday.

Gregor could not estimate how many passengers were affected, but he said only the airport's longer runway was blacked out.

Planes that use the long runway are at least as large as Boeing 757s, which hold between 186 and 279 passengers.

Delta Air Lines passenger Larry Hemley of Boston said he, his wife and two children were stranded for hours as their family tried to get to Los Angeles for Christmas.

“;They were completely blacked out of information,”; Hemley said. “;All it was was that the lights were out on the runway, and they have no clue what's wrong with them. So they're sitting there telling everybody, 'Well, we'll get back to you.'”;

Airport personnel eventually helped passengers find hotel accommodations and make flight plans for yesterday, Hemley said.