Users oppose
gov’s airport plan

By Diana Leone

Some users of five of the state's smallest airports questioned yesterday whether Gov. Ben Cayetano's just-unveiled plan to privatize or close them is reasonable.

State of Hawaii

"We're not exactly too happy with it," said Clayton Eveland, operator of Eveland Aero, which uses Dillingham Field on Oahu for flight school training.

The airports targeted by the governor's plan are Dillingham, Port Allen on Kauai, Upolu and Waimea-Kohala on the Big Island and Kapalua on Maui.

"The proposed closing of five small airports is part of a streamlining effort to make the airport system more efficient and cost-effective," Cayetano said in a release from his office yesterday.

He attributed the need for belt-tightening to the downturn in Japanese visitors and resulting loss of revenue from airport concessions.

Unless the state stops maintaining these smaller airports, it will continue to lose $2 million a year, Transportation Director Brian Minaai said in the governor's release.

None of the airports in question can handle jet planes, none have state staff on site full time and none have fueling operations, said Transportation Department spokeswoman Marilyn Kali.

"They are identified for closures because there has been very little use of them," she said. State workers who maintain the runways are based at other airports.

According to state figures, activity at the airports ranges from a low of about 100 passengers a year and about 4,300 takeoffs or landings at the Big Island's Upolu to a high of 95,390 passengers a year and 12,000 takeoffs or landings at Maui's Kapalua.

The only one of the five airports with commercial passenger flights is Kapalua, where Island Air offers five flights a day on planes that seat 37, spokesman Stu Glauberman said. He would not say how full the flights usually are.

"Island Air is not commenting on the governor's statements or plans," he said. "We look forward to continue to serve that community."

Rob Moore owns the flight school Moore Air on Oahu and makes contract deliveries for FedEx to the Waimea and Kapalua airports. "I'm hoping this will go away," he said yesterday.

Kapalua "is one of our bigger airports," for FedEx delivery, Moore said. "We service the big hotels there with convention material, etc. Not having that airport there means you'd have to take it into Kahului, and they'd have to truck it for an hour."

Cayetano's release yesterday follows an Oct. 1 letter to state legislators asking for their input on his plan.

State Department of Transportation

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