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Lihu’e Airport to get one big facelift

Governor Linda Lingle and members of her administration recently unveiled a comprehensive plan to upgrade Lihu’e Airport and the state’s other major airports, she said in a press release.

The $2.3 billion, 12-year Airports Modernization Plan was developed in conjunction with members of the Airlines Committee of Hawai’i and other airport and visitor industry partners.

The plan for Lihu’e Airport calls for modernization to meet current and forecasted demand.

The short-range projects, to be completed within five years, call for replacing holding room seats, improving baggage-claim facilities, improving heliport facilities, constructing additional ramp space, increasing security, modernizing the security access control and video-monitoring systems, construct in-line Explosive Detection System (EDS), improve the airport perimeter road and fence, upgrade the air-conditioning system, replace elevators, resurface runways and taxiways, repair the main terminal roof, replace airfield lighting and signage, improve storm water drainage systems and improve runway safety area.

Long-term projects, to be completed in five to 12 years, include expanding the public parking facility and passenger security checkpoint, and developing a plan to construct additional gates.

“Our airports are like little cities that serve not just passengers, but businesses, employees and our entire visitor industry,” said Lingle.

“This modernization plan is designed to meet diverse needs, from security to convenience to efficiency, and to do so with the aloha that our visitors and residents expect and deserve.”

“The vision and goal is to ensure our airports are modern, efficient, passenger-friendly and secure,” said state Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert.

“The phased modernization plan will create efficiencies and effectiveness in operations, and increase the level of satisfaction for our residents and visitors.”

The proposed upgrades will be paid for entirely by airport fees and federal funds, and will not utilize any state general funds.

The complete Airports Modernization Plan is available on the governor’s Web site at www.hawaii.gov/gov.

The goal is to create a world-class airport transportation system that meets the needs of residents and visitors today and into the future, they said.

Airports on the Neighbor Islands were not designed to accommodate the large number of wide-body aircraft currently serving these destinations.

Kahului, Kona and Lihu’e airports need additional gates and ticket lobby spaces, they concluded.

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