Transformation of Hawaii airports: What’s completed and what’s still left to do

Honolulu International Airport

The state Department of Transportation has already spent millions to bring it’s airports into the 21st century, around $800 million to be exact.

You can already see the changes all around the airport.

With 15 airports servicing 33 million passengers a year, Jeff Chang, engineering program manager for HDOT’s airports division says updating the airport to handle the influx of travelers is essential to the passenger experience, but it’s not easy.

“Trying to do this in an airport that’s having ongoing operations it is quite a task. It’s difficult to coordinate everything and make sure the passengers don’t experience any undo delays or any kind of inconvenience,” said Chang.

Some projects have already been completed.

Projects that are completed include new LED lighting that cost the DOT $150 million but all of which will be made up in energy savings.

Also completed are the new and expanded passenger walkways. There is one overlooking a garden still under construction.

Something passengers will notice is upgraded baggage handling systems.

Some in the front and already built, but the system in the interior of the airport is more than 35 years old, and is costing around $40 million to replace.

But Chang says there will be plenty of benefits. “It’s sort of invisible to the passenger but the passenger experience is more seamless. There will be less lost bags and basically more worry free travel for the public.”

The $2.7 billion 10-year project is completely funded by airport revenue. New retail space is being worked on to make sure that revenue continues to increase. Old signage will be upgraded with an easier to read version. New bathrooms have already been put in.


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