On Tuesday, Hawaii lawmakers, officials, and the Inouye family gathered to celebrate the renaming of the state’s largest airport.
We first told you last month about the name change, from Honolulu International Airport to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
The Hawaii State Legislature unanimously approved the change during its 2016 session.
“Dan spent more than 50 years flying between Honolulu and Washington, DC. representing the people of Hawaii. The iconic tower upon which his name is now affixed is a beacon and beckoning symbol to visitors and residents alike. I know he is pleased and smiling down on us,” said Irene Hirano Inouye, the late senator’s wife.
Earlier this month, we looked into government records and found a $21 million contract bid involving signage at the airport.
The Department of Transportation said Tuesday that nearly $1 million of that money will go toward changing the name, while the rest goes toward other sign replacement, which is part of the state’s modernization project.
“It’s going to replace thousands of signs in the entire facility, inside, outside, gate signs, exit signs, restroom signs, I mean every sign inside and out is going to be replaced,” said DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara. “It’s going to be numerous. The ones that people will notice are the ones on the main iconic district tower office building.”
Currently, the state is spending $2.7 billion to upgrade all of its airports. KHON2 asked how the state is paying for the new signs.
“We raise our own revenue similar to a business, so we get the funds from the airlines that come in and land,” Sakahara explained. “We get it from the businesses that come and rent space.”
The department says no taxpayer money was spent on the project. Instead, project costs, operating expenses, and salaries are funded by concessions and user fees, such as landing fees, terminal rentals, parking revenue, and passenger facility charges.
Ken Inouye tells us his father wasn’t a fan of having anything named after him.
“What do you think of the airport right now in its condition?” KHON2 asked.
“It is a facility that has been around for awhile, so there is some wear and tear, but at the end of the day, and I fly out of a lot of airports, at the end of the day it is a fundamentally good facility,” he said.
A special exhibit showcasing the life and career of the late senator through photographs and memorabilia is located in the Overseas Terminal near gate 24.
Overall, the Inouye family hopes every traveler receives the aloha spirit.
“I do sincerely think what I said earlier, how he would want us to always keep in mind the concept of aloha, which is all over this airport literally and figuratively, and it was also the last thing he said before he passed,” Ken Inouye said.
This is the fourth name for Honolulu’s airport.
It originally opened in 1927 as the John Rodgers Airport. After surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor the airport was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947. The International designation was included in 1951.
The designation code HNL will remain.