Fifteen years after the state took over Kalaeloa Airport in West Oahu, it’s getting ready to open its doors to the commercial airline industry, with Mokulele Airlines leading the way.
Beginning July 1, Mokulele Airlines will offer three round-trip flights a day between Kalaeloa and Kahului airports on a nine-passenger-seat, turbo-powered caravan.
“It’s a positive sign, because what we see is we see a lot of innovation, we see diverse products being offered and I think it can only be good for the travelers,” said aviation analyst Peter Forman.
Right now, the state-owned airport is used by the U.S. Coast Guard, the military and other aviators.
The state does not plan to hire any more workers for the airport because Mokulele will hire 12 people to staff Kalaeloa.
The state is working with Mokulele to figure out exactly where travelers will board, but says Kalaeloa has 300 parking stalls and travelers will not be charged.
They won’t be subject to TSA screening either, since the federal policy for small planes, like those operated by Mokulele, doesn’t require it.
“So far, anyplace in the world, there has not been a problem with small aircraft, so I think our passengers are relieved they don’t have to go through this scrutiny,” said Ron Hansen, Mokulele’s president and CEO.
“I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to miss that traffic,” said one Waianae resident.
“I think it’s always good to have more options, as long as environmentally, everything is sound, especially when you’re thinking of bringing back an area that’s been closed for so long,” said Waialua resident Lisa Fabro.
Mokulele is offering an introductory, $69-one way fare, which is good for travel in July and August.
If the demand is there, Mokulele may increase flights to Maui, and could also offer trips to Molokai and Lanai from West Oahu.
Experts say neighborhoods should not be affected by any noise, because the planes that will be used are small so the noise is minimal.