FAA: $14M to Lihu‘e Airport

LIHU‘E — A cut of federal funding will deliver $14.5 million to the Lihu‘e Airport.

This is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration’s $8 billion in grants that’ll keep U.S. airports in operation by funding workers and construction projects.

“The Airport Rescue Grants keep workers employed and help the aviation sector recover as more Americans get vaccinated and begin traveling again,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

“These grants are part of the administration’s commitment to build back a better and safer transportation system throughout our country.”

The funding was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed in March and was set aside to provide economic relief for airports by reimbursing operational expenses, debt-service payments and sanitization costs.

Airports are also given the go-ahead to use the money to provide rent relief to in-terminal retail and concession stands, the FAA said. The funding stipulates that airports must employ at least 90% of pre-pandemic employees.

There are 92 state Department of Transportation Airports Division employees on Kaua‘i, according to a spokesperson.

Pre-pandemic, the state was on its way to securing record-high tourism, reaching record highs in inter-island and trans-Pacific travelers. As the state underwent strict travel restrictions, tourism hit lows.

Since the onset of vaccinations and ways to bypass a state-mandated quarantine, travel has picked up across the state. On Monday, over 32,200 people flew into the state, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

“Hawai‘i airport workers and the entire airline industry have taken a significant hit during this crisis,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing, on Tuesday. “This new federal funding will support salaries for workers and help our airports recover.”

Lihu‘e Airport’s cut will be from more than $144 million coming to Hawai‘i airports, including $74.4 million for airports on O‘ahu, $29.2 million on Maui, $24 million on Hawai‘i Island and $1.3 million each for airports on Moloka‘i and Lana‘i.

“The Department of Transportation is glad to see that the federal government continues to support the airport industry during the COVID-19 period,” DOT Deputy Director for Airports Ross Higashi said in a statement. “The funding is critical to support the airport staff and tenants before a full recovery of air traffic and tourism.”

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

3 Comments
  1. Rampartview June 23, 2021 7:56 am Reply

    Just wondering if they plan to spend that $14 million to keep visitors off the island?


  2. RGLadder37 June 23, 2021 8:23 am Reply

    Spend the money on runway extension. North end zone, make the runway all the way near Nawiliwili. They can take off from there. Landing can be from the east end. 8500 ft. At least. Not bad. Should be 12,000 ft.

    And turn the airport into more restaurant area. Make it better. Waiters. Put more air contioners every where.


  3. RGLadder37 June 23, 2021 12:13 pm Reply

    Move the angle of the runway to the left, and it fits 12,000 ft.

    It was 6500 ft. Then they made it 7500 ft. Still this is too short. International should be 12,000 ft.

    But this is just hard luck case. When they first built it. There is more land inward and to the left.

    But that would be impossible.


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