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Hana Airport

The new Hana Airport was officially opened on November 11, 1950 to serve residents of Hana and visitors.

When Hamoa Airport in Hana was declared too small for current aircraft and could not be enlarged due to ground conditions it was felt that the time involved in travelling on the highways, plus the increase in population and the growth of Hotel Hana-Maui justified scheduled airline operations into the area. 

The Post War Planning Division of the Department of Public Works presented a report to the 1945 Legislature in which it proposed construction of a new flight strip graded 4,000 feet long and 500 feet wide, with an oiled cinder runway 4,000 feet long and 150-feet wide at a site located one mile east of Hana. 

“The project is a part of the Territorial Airport Plan as an emergency landing field and will eventually become a scheduled stop for the accommodation of the Hana District,” the report stated.  

The proposed site was owned by the Territory and needed to be transferred to the Department of Public Works for airport purposes. 

In December 1940, the Territory submitted an application to the CAA for a grant for the proposed airport.  Shortly thereafter the requirements of the Army and Navy became paramount to civilian needs and it was only possible to provide the emergency strip at Hamoa. 

Act 153, Session Laws of Hawaii 1945, appropriated $150,000 for the construction of a new airport in the district of Hana.  This amount was matched by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, therefore proving a total amount of $300,000 for the project which included the acquisition of rights of way and lands.   The greater portion of the lands on which the airport was constructed was land already owned by the Territory.  This new site was approximately four miles northwest of the village of Hana.   

Hana AirportIn 1947, the Superintendent of Public Works proposed constructing a Class III airport in Hana.  The proposed airport would serve the Hana District of approximately 2,500 people who were generally engaged in small farming and ranching activity.   

“Since the cessation of sugar plantation activity in Hana, there has been no scheduled steamer service to the port in Hana Bay,” reported the Superintendent of Public Works.  Service was limited to small freighters of the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., which were called in only by special arrangements. 

“Under the WPA a surfaced airstrip was constructed at Hamoa on the seacoast two miles south of Hana Village.  The strip is suitable only for emergency purposes and could not be improved to accommodate large aircraft operations. 

“In addition to accommodating the present requirements of this unusually isolated locality, the proposed airport would open up the areas as a tourist and general vacation center to an extent that would not otherwise be possible.  The great scarcity and prohibitive prices of land on the Island of Oahu have focused interest on various outside areas, including Hana. This factor, combined with the beauty and general suitability of the Hana District for recreational purposes, and the expected flood of tourists from the mainland combine to assure air traffic justifying the airport. 

“It should be noted that the airport is in a splendid location from “normal line-of-flight” considerations.  It is believed that adequate facilities at the edges of all principal channel crossings (in this case at Hana and Upolu) will serve to increase interest in personal aviation by adding to the safety of inter-island flights in small aircraft.” 

A Master Plan prepared by the Territorial Department of Public Works in November 1946 included a 4,000-foot by 500-foot runway.  The plan was approved by the CAA Region IX as part of the 1947 National Airport Plan.           

The HAC received a petition on June 7, 1948 from 376 residents of the Hana District requesting speedy construction of the new Hana airport.  It was estimated that plans for the airport would be ready for submission to the CAA within 30 days. 

Construction of the new Hana Airport began on November 16, 1948. Two contracts were awarded for grading and fencing of Hana Airport in 1948 followed by runway, taxiway and terminal area paving. 

On December 6, 1948 the HAC adopted a resolution adopting and approving the execution of a grant agreement between the Territory of Hawaii acting by and through the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission, and the United States of America, Civil Aeronautics Administration providing for Federal Aid in the development of, and the operation and maintenance of Hana Airport. 

Governor’s Executive Order No. 1300 dated December 13, 1948 set aside 5.363 acres of land for Hana Airport and Access Road on land conveyed to the Territory by Hana Ranch Company.  Governor’s EO No. 1324 dated April 16, 1949 set aside an additional 50.5 acres for Hana Airport under the control and operation of the Hawaii Aeronautics Commission. 

The HAC awarded a contract to Y. H. Char on April 25, 1949 for the construction of a fence and cattle guard at Hana Airport for the sum of $8,899.25 (half of cost by CAA). Act 368 SLH 1949, appropriated $56,000 for paving and improvements at Hana Airport. 

The HAC authorized construction of a terminal building at Hana on December 12, 1949 not to exceed $10,000.  A small passenger terminal and a separate freight terminal plus necessary water and power lines and cesspool were constructed out of surplus materials taken from Maui Airport.  This work was performed at comparatively small cost by the maintenance crew from Maui Airport. 

At the completion of the grading of the 100 feet wide by 3,600 feet long runway it was decided that Hana Airport should be paved so it could be served by scheduled operators. The paving contract was awarded on May 11, 1950 and completed on December 4, 1950.  Cost: $160,454. 

On October 23, 1950 the HAC set rental rates for Hana Airport as follows: Passenger Terminal, $1.50 per sq. ft. per annum; Freight Terminal, $0.20 per sq. ft. per annum.           

The new Hana Airport was officially opened on November 11, 1950 with an appropriate program by the HAC.  The new airport was completed at a cost of $244,000 of Territorial funds which was matched by the federal government.  Speakers included Governor Ingram M. Stainback. The HAC requested the DPW to continue with the widening of the Hana Airport Road another 10 feet and to use up the fund allotted for this project. 

A Jeep crash fire truck was put into operation at Hana Airport in January 1951. 

Construction of the new paved runway 3,600 x 100 feet was completed at a cost of $176,442 in June 1951.  Facilities at this airport included a passenger terminal, freight terminal, maintenance shop, fire house and fencing all constructed by the Maui County Maintenance crew.  The terminal and freight buildings cost $21,730. 

The airport was served on a regular three times a week schedule by Hawaiian Airlines and by charter operators as well. By 1953, the airport was served daily except Saturdays by Hawaiian Airlines. 

Plans were made to remodel the passenger terminal in 1955 at a cost of $3,500 and provide drainage and flood control on the entrance road for $1,300.    The passenger terminal building improvement project was stopped short of completion due to insufficient funds.  The only remaining items to be accomplished were the men’s and women’s restrooms and the supporting columns on the lanai.  The Commission appropriated $3,500 for the necessary improvements. 

The HAC discussed the problem of water supply at Hana Airport due to the poor condition of the main line supplying water from the main source to the passenger terminal building.  The Commission referred the problem of correcting the water supply to the Territorial Department of Public Works.           

The Commission accepted Hana Ranch Company’s offer of sufficient land to extend the runway 2,000 feet in a westerly direction and requested an engineering study of the cost of clearing and grading the overrun area on the west end of the Hana runway which had been deemed unsafe. The DPW was asked to investigate the possibility of the Hana Access Road becoming part of the Federal Highway System and securing of additional land from the adjacent property owner for widening of the road. 

By 1955, the airport consisted of 125 acres of land, and had one paved runway, 8-26, which was 100-feet wide and 3,600-feet long.  The only scheduled service was by Hawaiian Airlines.  The airport had a passenger terminal building, a freight terminal building, taxiways, paved plane parking area, wind socks, field maintenance, Crash-Fire protection and ground transportation services. 

A project to renovate the Terminal building was underway in 1956 for $7,335.  Grading of the overrun area was underway for $3,500. A new water supply system was in the planning stage for $2,000. Pavement rehabilitation was completed on July 20, 1956.  Cost: $6,802.

In 1957 the HAC accepted a deed from Hana Ranch Co., Ltd. for 19.8 acres of land adjacent to Hana airport for the ultimate expansion of the airport.

Highlights:

  • Act 195, SLH 1961 appropriated $20,000 for Hana airport to reconstruct the water system.
  • Governor’s Executive Order No. 1980 dated November 3, 1961 set aside 19.915 acres for an addition to Hana Airport for aviation purposes.
  • Hana Airport was connected to the county water system under a project completed March 19, 1963 at a cost of $20,352.  It is no longer necessary to truck drinking water to the airport.
  • Act 195, SLH 1965, appropriated $22,500 for plans for the extension of the runway and other improvements.
  • A contract to slurry seal the runway was completed on November 8, 1967 at a cost of $18,781.
  • Repairs to the Airport Access Road were completed on January 20, 1969, $17,993.
  • Removal of obstructions in the clear zone of Runway 8-26 were completed on January 22, 1971.  Cost: $22,000.
  • By 1975 Hana Airport was served by nonscheduled small aircraft only. It had no control tower and one paved, lighted runway.  It had one crash fire vehicle and a single attendant.
  • A contract was awarded on July 12, 1977 for strengthening the runway and improving lighting at a cost of $683,035.  The project was delayed because of load limitations placed on highway bridges over which asphaltic concrete must be hauled.
  • Governor’s Executive Order No. 2984 dated October 1, 1979 cancelled EO Nos. 1300, 1324 and 1980. 

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was established on October 1, 1979 in response to fears that as the U.S. airline industry was deregulated, air service to small communities would decline as local-service carriers shifted their operations to much larger city pairs. Under the EAS program, any airport receiving service by a U.S. DOT certified carrier in 1978, or 10 years prior, was designated an essential air service airport.             

Civil Aeronautics Board Order 79-10-3, the Bureau of Domestic Aviation, defined essential air service for Hana as a minimum of two daily round trip flights to Honolulu and Kahului providing a total of at least 64 seats in each direction per day.           

Governor’s Executive Order No. 2992 dated December 12, 1979 set aside 5.335 acres of additional land for Hana airport for the airport site and roadway purposes.

In 1984 the State was planning to clear and grade the runway areas to meet FAA rules and regulations.  Site work would also include new fencing to keep out unwanted people and cattle and reduce the size of a mound in the area.  Improvements to the runway safety area were completed in May 1986 at a cost of $500,000.           

Act 328, SLH 1997, appropriated $250,000 for design and construction for a precision approach path indicator system.           

Pacific Wings began daily flights between Kahului and Hana on December 10, 1997 using eight-seat Cessna 402C planes on scheduled trips and four-seat Cessna 172 on on-call charter flights.           

The Hana Airport Master Plan was approved and published in October 1998.  The plan described facilities at Hana Airport as Runway 8-26 which was 3,605 feet long and constructed of asphalt over gravel.  There were three taxiways, each approximately 40 feet in width that fed into the runway from the apron area.  The taxiways had medium intensity taxiway lights.  The aircraft parking apron was approximately 73,000 square feet. Six aircraft tie-down positions were located on the eastern side of the area.  The apron was separated from the terminal area by a four-foot high lava rock wall.  Several wood picket fence gates were located along the wall for access to the aircraft apron.  Helicopters usually parked on the grass area west of the maintenance building or on the two grass islands fronting the terminal building.           

Landside facilities included the 1,090 square foot terminal building, parking area and access routes. The parking area had 30 spaces and one handicap accessible space.  The terminal building was wood frame consisting of stud walls and a double pitch roof.  Ohia columns were placed along the perimeter of the lanai space.           

Projects recommended in the Master Plan were broken into phases.           

Phase I (1998-2002) included installing PAPI on Runways 8 and 26, drainage improvements, aircraft hangars, a UNICOM station, access roads, parking, landscaping, expansion of the ticketing and baggage claim areas, construction of a helicopter parking apron, van parking and shelter, transient tie down apron, expansion of the maintenance building, and construction of 10-foot shoulders on all taxiways, and lengthening the east Runway safety area from 200 feet to 300 feet.  The total cost of these improvements was estimated at $5.3 million.           

Recommended Phase II improvements (2003-2007) included crack sealing of the new transient apron, the helicopter transient apron, the air carrier apron, Runway 8-26, the access/egress taxiways and the on-airport access road and parking, at an estimated cost of $1.7 million.           

Recommendations for Phase III (2008-2017) included overlay of the new transient apron, helicopter transient apron, air carrier apron, Runway 8-26, access/egress taxiways, and the on-airport access road and parking, at an estimated cost of $3.9 million.

On September 7, 1999 Island Air and Pacific Wings implemented a substitute service, code-sharing and marketing agreement that offered expanded flights to Hana and Kalaupapa.

Aloha Island Air terminated regular scheduled service to Hana on February 9, 2000.   

Pacific Wings was obligated by the EAS order 2000-5-2 to provide 32 non-stop trips per week, 13 round trips to Honolulu and 19 round trips to Kahului using a mix of Cessna 402 and 172 aircraft. 

On May 3, 2000 Air Nevada, Inc. (dba Pacific Wings) was selected by the U.S. DOT to provide Essential Air Service to Hana consisting of two nonstop round trips per day to Honolulu, and three nonstop round trips per day to Kahului for $574,500 annually, for a period of two years. 

A Precision Approach Path Indication (PAPI) was installed in October 2000.  Cost: $250,000.           

Pacific Wings was selected by the U.S. DOT on August 12, 2002 to provide subsidized EAS at Hana for an additional two year period using Cessna Caravan aircraft. Service required 13 nonstop round trips each week to Honolulu and 15 nonstop round trips each week to Kahului. The contract was extended until March 31, 1007.           

Pacific Wings declined to apply for an EAS subsidy and announced on April 1, 2007 that it would provide subsidy-free scheduled service to Hana.  This arrangement allowed Pacific Wings to create its own price schedule as well as to cancel flights without regard to the EAS program and the impact it had on the public.             

The change resulted in a drop in passengers from 8,656 in 2006 to 1,327 in 2009 due to increased ticket prices and unreliable service. 

As of June 2010, the Pacific Wings website listed flights from Honolulu to Hana but none could be booked.  The site would not allow you to enter a travel date. 

The HDOT is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure that Hana residents once again have access to reliable and affordable air travel under the Essential Air Service Program.

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