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Hawaii State Announces Details of Japan Airlines’ New Daily, Non-Stop Service to Kona

New flights expected to bring in nearly $10 M in annual tax revenue

Gov. David Ige, Japan Airlines and the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation announced details of JAL’s return to the Kona International Airport at Keāhole on Hawai‘i Island. JAL is starting a new daily, non-stop service between Narita International Airport in Tokyo and the Kona International Airport.

The new service is an addition to JAL’s six current non-stop flights between Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Honolulu.

“Japan Airlines has offered continuous service to the State of Hawai‘i for more than 60 years now. Over the years, JAL has played a significant role in the expansion of our state’s tourism industry, economy and the cultural exchange we enjoy with Japan. We are excited about the new daily service to Kona, which is well on its way to becoming Hawai‘i’s second major international port of entry,” said Gov. Ige.

“Japan Airlines is pleased to announce return-to-service between Narita and Kona International Airport at Keahole (starting September 15, 2017),” said Yoshiharu Ueki, President of Japan Airlines. “For over 60 years, JAL has been serving and promoting travel to the beautiful state of Hawai‘i and this latest route gives our customers based in Japan and in other Asia gateways a second destination in addition to our six daily flights from Narita, Nagoya and Osaka to Honolulu.”

JAL’s new service is expected to result in about $84.2 million in visitor expenditures and about $9.8 million in state tax revenue, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. The service will also support about 900 jobs on Hawai‘i Island.

The Narita/Kona flights will operate with fully revamped JAL SKY SUITE 767 (767-300ER) aircraft and will be fitted with the airline’s most current interiors. The aircraft seats 199 passengers.

The flights will depart Narita at 9:25 p.m. and arrive in Kona at 10:15 a.m. Service from Kona will depart at 12:15 p.m. and arrive in Narita at 4:00 p.m. the next day. Schedules are subject to government approval.

The new daily flights are set to begin on Sept. 15, 2017.

Honolulu International Airport is Now The Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)

With immense pride the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) officially announces the Honolulu International Airport is now the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).

HNL is officially the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Photos courtesy: HDOT

“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 Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye. “Thank you for this honor for Dan and the Inouye family.”

“Senator Inouye made a lasting and positive impact on our state, nation and world,” said Gov. David Ige. “His life reflects who we are today as a people, place and culture. His work as a public servant tells a modern-day story that will benefit future generations. It is fitting that our international airport will be named after the senator so that we may honor and remember him and others of his generation for the legacy they left behind. I hope those who work at and travel through our international airports will be reminded of Senator Inouye’s life and the values he lived by.”

The new Daniel K. Inouye International Airport sign on the Airports Division District Office Tower is black during the day and illuminates white at night. The picture shows the mauka side of the building.

Daniel Ken Inouye was born in Honolulu September 7, 1924 and graduated from William McKinley High School, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and George Washington University. He served as Hawaii’s first representative in Congress in 1959. In 1962 he was elected to the U.S. Senate making him the first Japanese American to serve in both the House and Senate, ultimately representing Hawaii for a combined 53 years. He was the second longest serving Senator in history and rose to the rank of president pro tempore, which is third on the presidential succession, making him the highest ranking Asian American public official in U.S. history. During his tenure he continuously secured much needed federal funding for Hawaii which benefited projects on all islands.

New signage displaying Daniel K. Inouye International Airport has been installed on the Airports Division District Office Tower and above the roadway signs at the entrance of the facility.

Senator Inouye is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, the nation’s highest award for military valor, for his heroic and courageous actions while serving in the decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Despite being shot in the stomach and having his right arm lost to a rifle grenade, Inouye continued fighting and leading his men in combat, eventually destroying multiple German bunkers in the battle.

After his death in 2012, Senator Inouye was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, making him the first senator to receive both the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor. For additional information regarding the distinguished and legendary career of Daniel K. Inouye please visit http://www.danielkinouyeinstitute.org/

In a touching moment Maggie Inouye, granddaughter of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, placed her hand with blessed Hawaiian water on to her grandfather’s face during the blessing ceremony while Kahu Kordell Kekoa, Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye and Ken Inouye, Maggie’s dad, looked on.

The State Legislature approved House Concurrent Resolution 88 Senate Draft 2 in the 2016 session calling on the airport to be renamed after Senator Daniel K. Inouye. The resolution passed unanimously. To read the resolution visit  http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2016/bills/HCR88_SD2_.htm

The HDOT Airports Division has replaced the iconic “Honolulu International Airport” lettering above the district office building with new signage stating, “Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.” The lettering is black during the day and illuminated white at night. New signage over the roadway signs above the entrances to the airport from the H-1 Freeway are also in place. The general contractor for the project is Global Specialty Contractors, Inc. The total cost of the new signage, parts, materials, labor, removal of old signs and repairs to the structures for new signs was nearly one million dollars. Because HDOT is self-sustaining no general funds were used, meaning no tax money was spent on the project. Instead HDOT generates its own revenue through user fees. In the Airport Division’s case, project costs, operating expenses and salaries primarily comes from concessions and airline revenue. Primary sources of funding include, landing fees, terminal rentals, parking revenue and passenger facility charges.

Kahu Kordell Kekoa (from left to right); Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell; Gov. David Ige’s Chief of Staff Mike McCartney; Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye; Ken Inouye, Sen. Inouye’s son; Maggie Inouye, Sen. Inouye’s granddaughter; U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard and State Senate President Ronald Kouchi participate in the traditional untying of the maile lei during the ceremony.

With more than 20 million annual passengers, 23,000 employees, more than 300,000 aircraft operations a year, and encompassing an area larger than Waikiki, the former Honolulu International Airport, is the biggest and most active airport in the state. The 24/7 facility is visited by residents and visitors from around the world. Twenty-five airlines serve the airport offering direct flights to and from the neighbor islands and dozens of national and international destinations.

HDOT will officially reference the facility as the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, however the Federal Aviation Administration will continue to use the HNL acronym.

A Daniel K. Inouye exhibit showcases the life and career of the late Senator through photographs and memorabilia. The exhibit is located in the Overseas Terminal near gate 24, which is one of the busiest sections of the airport educating thousands of people a day about his contributions and legacy.

In addition, there is an exhibit celebrating the Nisei veterans of World War II, many of whom fought with the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Sen. Inouye fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in U.S. history based on size and length of service. The exhibit was produced to preserve and perpetuate the acts of heroism and the achievements of the Japanese American soldiers in World War II. It is located in the makai end of the Interisland Terminal near gate 56.

Ken and Jessica Inouye and their daughter Maggie helped Kahu Kordell Kekoa bless the new signs that are displayed above the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport District Office Tower. All Photos Courtesy: HDOT

This is the fourth name change in the airport’s long history. 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 airport utilizes six runways, including two sealanes. A unique airport feature is the Reef Runway, which was the first major runway in the world to be built offshore. There are three cultural gardens featuring Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese heritage, which offer travelers a relaxing break where they can learn about native Asian and Hawaiian plants and architecture.

For additional information about the Daniel K. Inouye airport and its features visit http://airports.hawaii.gov/hnl/

Japan Airlines Announces New Routes to Kona – Hawaii Governor to Hold News Conference Tomorrow

Japan Airlines (JAL) yesterday announced that it will launch new nonstop services between Tokyo (Narita) and Melbourne starting September 1, 2017, and between Tokyo (Narita) and Kona from September 15, 2017.

Tomorrow, Governor Ige will hold a news conference detailing the new routes with Mayor Harry Kim and Japan Airlines Director/Chairman Masaru Onisihi

Melbourne will become the second destination in Australia within JAL’s international network. Additionally, a nonstop service will return between Tokyo (Narita) and Kona, the gateway to Hawaii Island, which is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii and surrounded by a rich natural environment.

The JAL Group will continue to embrace new challenges to deliver greater customer convenience and comfort, enhance its networks, and improve the quality of products and services.

JAL currently operates six daily flights to Honolulu, including four daily flights from Narita, and one daily flight from Osaka (Kansai) and Nagoya (Chubu), respectively. Starting September 15, 2017, JAL will resume nonstop service to Kona on Hawaii Island after a seven-year absence. The daily service from Narita will operate using the airline’s JAL SKY SUITE configured aircraft.

Hawaii Island, also commonly known as the Big Island, is one of the most popular travel destinations and surrounded by a rich natural environment. With this new Kona service, both customers visiting Hawaii for the first time and those who have visited Honolulu previously, will be able to discover more of Hawaii’s countless charms.

The well-received JAL SKY SUITE 767 aircraft operating the Narita = Kona route is fitted with the airline’s latest interior including fully flat “JAL SKY SUITEⅡ”seats in Business Class.

“JAL SKY SUITEⅡ”seats

In Economy Class, “JAL SKY WIDER” seats offer increased pitch and a slim-style seatback design resulting in approximately 10 cm (max.) more legroom than the previous seat pitch.

“JAL SKY WIDER” seats

The following plans and schedules are subject to government approval.

Note: Arrival time of JL770 and Departure time of JL779 will be 10 minutes earlier from October 1 through October 28, 2017.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Will Implement Third Phase of Fee Increase June 1

On June 1, entrance fees at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will increase, the last phase of a three-year incremental plan to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities.

The 2017 per-vehicle fee will change from $20 to $25 and the pass is valid for seven days. The per-person fee (the rate bicyclists and pedestrians pay) will increase from $10 to $12, and the motorcycle fee will increase to $20.

The popular annual Tri-Park Pass will increase from $25 to $30 in 2017. The annual Tri-Park Pass is available to all visitors and allows unlimited entry for one year to three national parks: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park.

Entrance fees at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park support ongoing trail maintenance, road and parking lot striping, cabin repairs, hike guides, restrooms, picnic tables, and much more.

Recreational entrance fees are not charged to holders of the Tri-Park Pass, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Lands (“Interagency”) Pass, Senior, Access, Every Kidin a Park, Volunteer, or Military passes. These passes may be obtained at the park, or online. In addition, visitors less than 16 years old are not charged entrance fees.

Fee increases for the park’s backcountry and front-country campsites were implemented in October 2016. There is a $10 per night charge for the front-country campground at Kulanaokuaiki, up to seven consecutive nights; and a $10 per permit charge for backcountry campgrounds like Nāpau, ‘Āpua Point, and Halapē, up to three consecutive nights. Availability is on a first-come basis, not a reservation system. The camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide.

In addition, entrance fees will increase for commercial tour companies on June 1. Road-based tour vans carrying one to six passengers pay a $25 base fee and starting June 1, will pay a $12 per-person rate to enter the park. The commercial tour per-person rate will remain at $12 through 2021. The base fee will not change. Non-road-based tour companies, i.e. hiking tour companies that are on trails more than touring the park by vehicle, don’t pay a base rate but their per-person entrance fees will increase under the schedule.

The current National Park Service (NPS) fee program began in 1997 and allows parks to retain 80 percent of monies collected. Projects funded by entrance fees enhance the visitor experience and safety at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and include ongoing trail maintenance, road and parking lot striping, cabin repairs, hike guides, restrooms, picnic tables, and more. The transformation of the 1932 Administration Building (‘Ōhi‘a Wing) into a cultural museum that visitors will soon enjoy is also a fee-funded project. Entrance fees also protect the Hawaiian ecosystem by funding fencing projects that prevent non-native ungulates like pigs and goats from devouring rare native plants.

An NPS report shows that 1,887,580 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2016 spent $159,195,500 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,917 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $199,923,400.

REPORT: Native Hawaiian-Owned Firms in Hawaii’s Tourism Sector

The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) has released the report “Native Hawaiian-Owned Firms in Hawaii’s Tourism Sector”. To obtain the report, click here.

The executive summary begins with “According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, Native Hawaiians owned a total of 13,147 firms in Hawaii in 2012. 3,972 or 30.2 percent of these firms were in the tourism sector and accounted for 10.1 percent of the total tourism sector firms in the state.”

Click to read report

An updated DBEDT ACS interactive map is also now available. It may be found on the Office of Planning’s State GIS Program’s website here.

This map product is a joint project between our Research and Economic Analysis Division and the Hawaii Statewide GIS Program. In this map, area profiles for all Hawaii census tracts, State Senate Districts and State House Districts were updated with the latest 2011-2015 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data . State of Hawaii as well as county figures are also provided. For downloadable files containing this profile data, click here.

An Analysis of Consumer Debt: How Does Hawaii Compare with the Nation?

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today, “An Analysis of Consumer Debt: How does Hawaii Compare with the Nation?” The report examined various consumer debt categories.

The report highlights why our per capita debt is high, which is due to high housing prices in Hawaii, with 77 percent of our debt from mortgage debt.

Hawaii’s home ownership increased 10 percentage points from 46.9 percent in 1970 to 56.9 percent in 2015 while the U.S. home ownership increased less than one percentage point from 62.9 percent to 63.8 percent during the same time period.

Chief State Economist Dr. Eugene Tian noted that the high mortgage debt may also have negative impacts, including less consumers spending on other goods and services by home owners, increasing rental payment for renters, and the leakage of mortgage payment to out-of-state financial institutions.

Following are some of the highlights of the report:

  • Hawaii’s total consumer debt per capita increased from $51,810 in 2005 to $67,010 in 2015, ranking it second highest in the nation.
  • For mortgage debt per capita, Hawaii has been steadily increasing in the state rankings, from the sixth highest state in 2005 to the highest state in 2015.
  • Hawaii ranks low among states for auto loans per capita, while defaults for those with auto loans are close to U.S. average.
  • Hawaii residents have relatively high credit card debt. Hawaii ranked fourth in the nation in 2010 and 2015 for credit card debt per capita.
  • Hawaii ranks the lowest in the nation for per capita student debt.
  • For the other debt category (home equity lines of credit, consumer cards, and consumer-financed debt), Hawaii leads the nation for the average amount per capita at $5,300. This partially reflects Hawaii’s high residential real estate values and the home equity loan balances supported by these high values.

The report is available at: http://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/consumer_debt_final.pdf

Mauna to Mauna Ultra Happening Now on the Big Island of Hawaii

Endurance Events USA is pleased to announce the inaugural edition of the Mauna to Mauna Ultra, which is happening now on the Big Island and will continue until May 20, 2017. This unique event is a 6-stage, 7 day, self-supported footrace, covering a cumulative distance of approximately 155 miles (250 km). The race is open to runners and hikers.

The 155-mile course route which began at Coconut Island in Hilo, winds through 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, and finishes at Hapuna Beach. The course is taking participants up the world’s most massive mountain (Mauna Loa) and part way up the world’s tallest mountain (Mauna Kea), hence the name of the race: Mauna to Mauna. Participants are climbing more than 16,000 feet over the course of the race.

The field of participants from all over the world has come together for this challenging event, assuming the responsibility of carrying their own backpacks containing food, sleeping bag, mat and other mandatory equipment for the week.

Participants could elect to compete as individuals or teams. Participants were expected to possess basic outdoor survival skills such as familiarity with outdoor gear and backpacking. However, they were not required to possess any technical navigational or climbing skills to take part in the Event. Entrants from 20 countries are participating.

The event is sponsored by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau and the County of Hawai‘i.

Please visit the event website at www.m2multra.com for more information. Follow the event on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mauna2mauna.

 

Kona Brewing Company’s New “Dear Mainland” Campaign Rolls Out Today

At a time when Americans are leaving millions of unused vacation days on the table and spending more time in front of screens than ever before, Kona Brewing Company and the larger-than-life but laid back Hawaiian “Bruddahs” from the “Dear Mainland” campaign are back to playfully suggest that shifting our priorities might help us enjoy life more. In new digital videos that launch May 8, the Bruddahs humorously remind us to get out and have some real-life fun as they “review” a few of the ways we get stuck to our screens – whether to catch up on the latest reality television feud, crush a mobile game, or check out a viral cat-in-funny outfit video.

The :15 videos are part of Kona Brewing’s evolution of the successful integrated “Dear Mainland” campaign, which is expanding to include TV, digital video and retail components, as well as new localized TV spots in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco.

The Dear Mainland campaign created with Duncan Channon, which juxtaposes the easy-going and distinctly local perspective of the Bruddahs with common all-work-no-play mainlander pressures, has driven significant business growth for Kona Brewing Company since its 2014 launch. After the first year, Kona saw a 37 percent sales lift in markets where the campaign aired – the third highest lift recorded by IRI in 12 years. In 2016, Kona recorded an additional 15 percent growth over the previous year’s record in campaign markets.

“Kona’s Dear Mainland campaign has been successful because people love the light-hearted way our ‘Bruddahs’ deliver the relatable and much-needed reminder to step outside their daily routine and make time for what matters most to them,” said Cindy Wang, senior director of brand marketing for Kona Brewing Co. “That’s why we’re excited to showcase their special brand of Hawaiian wisdom in new formats beyond traditional TV spots and create hyper-local ways to engage new audiences.”

“We know people are guilty of spending time online at the expense of other meaningful, relaxing or fun experiences, so it makes sense for us to reach our audience on social to deliver Kona’s good humored message about screen time,” added Wang.

Created by San Francisco’s Duncan Channon, a 2016 Ad Age Small Agency of the Year, the digital videos were shot in Hawaii at Kikaua Point Park, Kailua-Kona with Waimea resident Dave Bell and Blake “Brutus” La Benz from Honolulu. Three :15 second videos will run May 8 through September 3, 2017 on Facebook and Instagram:

  • Kona Reviews: Phone Apps” – pokes fun at the mobile game phenomenon and gamification that keeps Americans chained to their phones
  • Kona Reviews: Reality TV” – tongue-in-cheek reference to reality TV drama that contrasts with the serene experience of drinking a cold Kona beer at the beach
  • Kona Reviews: Viral Videos” – reminds us that there may be more fulfilling things to do and discover in life than the latest viral cat video sensation

“The Kona brand is all about encouraging people to slow down, breathe and connect with what matters – family, friends, nature, experiences,” said Anne Elisco-Lemme, executive creative director, Duncan Channon. “In the new creative, the brothers’ tongue-in-cheek banter about pop culture content that keeps us chained to our screens reminds us that we sometimes need to put down the phone, turn off the TV or close that YouTube video to get out and enjoy life.”

Duncan Channon also produced a series of short-form videos called “Dear Kona,” which will run on Facebook and Instagram during the same time period. The videos feature the Bruddahs’ responses to fictional letters from mainlanders asking advice about how to deal with life situations, such as an amped-up boss labeling every email “urgent.” View the videos here:

As part of Kona’s 360 degree approach to reach audiences no matter where they are, Kona also partnered with CBS to create dedicated local TV creative that offers the Bruddahs’ laid-back view on the local values of five California counties: Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco. The localized TV spots will air in each market exclusively on Thursdays – the day of the week the Bruddahs want people to treat like “Little Fridays”  by making time to enjoy themselves. Kona will also encourage fans to put a little “Friday” into everyday giving away a weekly prize through a new “Little Friday” online sweepstakes, which will be promoted on social media and in retail stores. Consumers can enter starting May 8 at: www.konabrewingco.com/littlefridays.

The brand teamed with the AV Club to bring music artists Thao and Zipper Club to the home of Kona beer in Kona, HI, to film a national TV special that will air nationally on Fusion TV on August 31, 2017. Kona will also present a special concert featuring Boulevards, Thao and Zipper Club in Los Angeles at Hotel Cafe on July 20, 2017. “Little Friday Acoustic Sessions” sessions and interviews with the artists courtesy of Kona will be unveiled at www.avclub.com throughout the summer.

The new elements in the “Dear Mainland” campaign will complement the airing of existing Kona TV spots “Little Fridays,” “FOMO” and “Sad Hour” due to their continued success with audiences. The TV spots, which originally launched in the summer of 2014 will air in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento May through September.

Coast Guard Proposing Permanent 300 Meter Safety Zone for Lava Tour Boats – Public Meeting TONIGHT

The Coast Guard proposes to establish a permanent safety zone for the navigable waters surrounding the entry of lava from Kilauea volcano into the Pacific Ocean on the southeast side of the Island of Hawaii, HI.

The safety zone will encompass all waters extending 300 meters (984 feet) in all directions around all entry points of lava flow into the ocean. The entry points of the lava vary, and the safety zone will vary accordingly. The safety zone is needed to protect persons and vessels from the potential hazards associated with molten lava entering the ocean resulting in explosions of large chunks of hot rock and debris upon impact, collapses of the sea cliff into the ocean, hot lava arching out and falling into the ocean, and the release of toxic gases. Entry of persons or vessels into this safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Honolulu or his designated representative.

The Coast Guard will host a public meeting regarding the Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the Kamokuna lava ocean entry safety zone at the East Hawaii County Building at 5 p.m., TONIGHT, Monday May 8, 2017.

Mau‘i’s Most Popular Trail Gets Safety and Conservation Upgrades

On one side of the Waihe‘e Ridge Trail, hikers look deep into the Waihe‘e Gorge.  On the other, they look across Makamakaole Gulch and out into the shimmering Pacific Ocean.  On a clear day, yet another view is across the entire central plain of Maui all the way to the top of Haleakala.  This challenging, but scenic trail is considered the most popular path on Maui in the State’s Nā Ala Hele Trail and Access Program.

Now the thousands of people who make the 2.5-mile trek to the top can do it safer and probably with a heck of a lot less mud attached to their boots.  An almost completed $122,000 trail improvement program provides two viewing platforms, drainage features in particularly boggy areas, and better trail tread to reduce slickness.  Torrie Nohara, the Nā Ala Hele trails specialist on Maui commented, “On every trail, water control is the number one consideration. We’ve built “sheet drains” that will divert water off the trail and not only make it more enjoyable for users, but help prevent erosion. On the lower portions of the trail we did significant excavation of large boulders and rocks to improve the contour of the trail.”

The Nā Ala Hele program falls under the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). It hired Cam Lockwood of Trails Unlimited to help design the new features and supervise trail improvement and construction work.  His California-based company has built and improved trails nationwide.  He says the Waihe’e Ridge Trail incorporates some of the best thinking and best practices around for trail improvements.  “For instance,” Lockwood explained, “The large viewing platform on top and the one about a mile up the trail are constructed with pressure treated lumber raised off the ground to provide a longer useful life. Composite decking was used on the viewing platforms to also extend their life spans and to provide improved traction in the often, wet conditions at the terminus of the trail.”  He said the primary consideration for all the improvements was to make the entire trail more sustainable, more enjoyable, and safer.  He describes the views from the top as “breathtaking” and hopes people will focus on those, rather than the challenge involved in making the 1,500-foot elevation gain hike.

While most of the major construction is now complete, crews continue to put finishing touches on some of the features and certain sections of the trail.  The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is open for hiking, but people are asked to exercise caution and respect when traversing through construction zones. For complete information on this trail please visit:https://hawaiitrails.org/trails/#/trail/waihee-ridge-trail/111

Waihee Ridge Trail Improvements VNR from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Coast Guard Holding Public Meeting Regarding Changes to Kamokuna Lava Ocean Entry Safety Zone

The Coast Guard will host a public meeting regarding the Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the Kamokuna lava ocean entry safety zone at the East Hawaii County Building at 5 p.m., Monday.

Kamokuna Ocean Entrance

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making is public notice a federal agency intends to create, add, remove or change a rule or regulation. The Coast Guard encourages citizens to participate in the rulemaking process by reviewing the rulemaking docket and providing public comment via the Federal Register. Public comments ensure Coast Guard rules and regulations are in the best interest of all parties. The Coast Guard is holding this public meeting as part of the NPRM process to encourage public input regarding the possible permanence and scope of the safety zone in place at Kamokuna.

To view the NPRM in the Federal Register, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0234 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.”  Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule. The Coast Guard strongly prefers comments to be submitted electronically.  Electronic comments may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov.  Click the “COMMENT NOW” box on the top right of Docket Folder. Written comments may also be submitted (e.g. postmarked) by the deadline, via mail to Commander (spw), U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, 433 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96850.

The comment period ends at 11:59 p.m. June 2, 2017.

  • WHO: Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Captain of the Port
  • WHAT: Hosts public meeting as part of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making to collect public input on the Notice of Proposed Rule Making process regarding the safety zone
  • WHERE: East Hawaii County Building (Hilo) Aupuni Center Conference Room located at 101 Pauahi Street #7, Hilo, HI, 96720
  • WHEN: 5 p.m., May 8, 2017. Media are asked to arrive no later than 4:30 p.m.

Media interested in attending are asked to RSVP no later than Monday at 12 p.m. by contacting the Coast Guard 14th District public affairs office at 808-341-9849.

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger Off Cruise Ship in Hawaii

A 66-year-old woman is in stable condition at Hilo Medical Center on Big Island after being medically evacuated by the Coast Guard, Tuesdy.

Wiki photo via Johan Fredriksson

“We are proud of all the crews involved, including that of the Emerald Princess, for their cooperation and work ensuring the passenger received appropriate care,” said Kelvin Morgan, operations unit controller at Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point successfully conducted the hoist of the woman, reportedly suffering from abdominal trauma, at 12:30 p.m., and transported her to awaiting EMS at Hilo International Airport. She was then further transported to Hilo Medical Center.

Watchstanders at JRCC Honolulu received notification from the crew of passenger vessel Emerald Princess at 7:40 p.m., Monday. The vessel was 390 miles southeast of Big Island making 25 mph en route Hilo.

The watchstanders briefed the duty flight surgeon and agreed on a medevac. A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point launched to provide top cover and communications while the Emerald Princess transited toward the islands.

Once within range, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew launched from Air Station Barbers Point and successfully hoisted the patient 81 miles southeast of Oahu.

Weather on scene was reportedly winds of 12 mph with 6-foot seas.

Funding for Rail on Life Support – House and Senate Disagree on How to Pay for City’s Financially Troubled Project

The House of Representatives and the Senate could not agree today on amending Senate Bill 1183, the vehicle for funding the city’s financially troubled rail project.

Click to read bill

The House version of the rail funding bill takes the tax burden off Hawaii residents by increasing the Transient Accommodation Tax paid primarily by tourists. The proposal would provide nearly all of the money needed to complete the project, estimated to cost $8.1 billion, from Kapolei to Ala Moana.

The Senate also amended the bill, by extending the state’s 0.5 percent surcharge levied on Oahu’s general excise tax for an additional 10 years from 2027 until 2037.

“GET is one of the most regressive tax. It taxes the working poor and the elderly. It is our responsibility to stand up for those individuals,” said Representative Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa).

After consulting with members of the hotel industry, the House amended the bill to provide $1.7 billion for the rail project.

“We clearly support rail and the House plan provides more funding than any other conference draft we have seen,” said Representative Henry Aquino (Waipahu). “This is a responsible amendment that would provide funding in the quickest way possible.”

The House proposal for SB 1183 SD2 HD2 HCD2 includes:

Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT)

  • Increases TAT from 9.25 percent to 10.25 percent for 11 years through 2028
  • Prohibits the use of the TAT funds for rail operations and maintenance
  • Prohibits use of the TAT funds for HART administrative and operating costs
  • Maintains counties’ share of TAT revenue at $103 million per year (the share was scheduled to be reduced to $93 million beginning fiscal year (2017-2018)
  • Honolulu’s share of the TAT county subsidy (44.1 percent) will be solely directed toward funding rail
  • The scheduled 2018 reduction in the neighbor island county TAT subsidies will be eliminated and those counties will continue to receive their current TAT subsidy that is calculated as a percentage of $103 million through fiscal year 2027-2028:
  1. Oahu $45.4 million
  2. Maui $23.4 million
  3. Hawaii $19.1 million
  4. Kauai $14.9 million
  • These TAT amendments could generate $926.8 million over the 11-year period.

General Excise Tax (GET)

  • Extends the county surcharge on GET for an additional one year from 2027-2028
  • Continues the state’s reduced share of the administrative service fee (“skim”) at 1 percent in 2028
  • The reduction of the State’s skim to 1 percent generates $350 million from 2018-2028
  • These GET amendments generate $435.2 million in 2028.

New Start Education Special Fund

  • Reduces the annual allocation (for 11 years) for the New Start Education Special Fund from $50 million to $25 million, for a total of $275 million.

City Non-Rail Development

  • Prohibits a county from using public funds to reconstruct or redevelop an event venue (and associated infrastructure and appurtenances) that is within a Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) district or in a manner that requires HCDA approval, through December 31, 2028.

Hawaiian Airlines Launches Daily Service Between Los Angeles and Kaua‘i – Summer Flights to Kona Resume

Hawaiian Airlines’ popular daily non-stop summer flights between Los Angeles and Kaua‘i will now be offered year-round starting on May 26, the airline announced today. Also beginning on Memorial Day weekend, Hawaiian will resume seasonal service between California and Kaua‘i and the Kona Coast on the Island of Hawai‘i, providing travelers direct access to both islands during the peak summer months.

Hawaiian will turn its seasonal service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Līhu‘e Airport (LIH) into a permanent daily flight due to consistently strong demand from Southern California.

“For the past four years, our summer schedule has been well-received by West Coast travelers seeking convenient service to our Neighbor Islands,” said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “Guests will continue to enjoy our warm and authentic Hawaiian hospitality and island-inspired meals as they set off for the beautiful island of Kaua‘i or the stunning Kona Coast.”

As part of its summer schedule, Hawai‘i’s largest and longest-serving carrier is bringing back non-stop daily flights between Oakland International Airport (OAK) and LIH starting May 27 through Sept. 4.

Non-stop flights between LAX and Kona International Airport (KOA) will commence on May 28. KOA-LAX flights will be offered on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, while LAX-KOA flights will be available Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, also through Sept. 4.

Guests aboard Hawaiian’s flights will enjoy the carrier’s signature Mea Ho‘okipa (I am host) onboard hospitality, island-style complimentary meals and made-in-Hawai’i snacks. Flights between Los Angeles and Kona will be served by Hawaiian’s wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft featuring first class, Extra Comfort and economy seats. Guests traveling between Los Angeles or Oakland and Līhu‘e will be aboard the airline’s wide-body Boeing 767 aircraft offering first class and economy seating.

Tickets for the seasonal non-stop flights are available for purchase online at HawaiianAirlines.com or by calling Hawaiian Airlines’ reservations department toll-free at (800) 367-5320.

Conference Committee Agree on Funding Honolulu’s Rail Project – Tourists Will Pay More

The House and Senate conference committee came to an agreement this afternoon on the future of Honolulu’s rail project. Earlier today, the House proposed removing the 2-year extension using GET surcharge from SB 1183 SD2 HD2 and replacing it by increasing the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) by 2.75%.

“The City and HART have been telling us over and over again that the cost of rail should be put on tourists and the visitor industry,” said Representative Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa). “We have taken them to heart and we have done that today without imposing a further tax burden on the citizens of the state.”

The amended bill calls for the City & County of Honolulu to contribute $13 million of their share of the hotel room tax to fund the rail project.

The bill allows for a massive infusion of money now for the rail project without putting the cost of it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens, the poor, elderly and low-income working families. The money generated by the increase in the hotel tax in today’s dollars is equivalent to receiving $2.4 billion in future GET revenues. This would provide more funding for rail than any package currently being proposed.

“The end goal has always been to get rail to Ala Moana so that the City fulfills its agreement with the Federal Transit Authority,” said Representative Henry Aquino (Waipahu). “This bill gives the city more tools to use in managing and funding its project.”

The bill also calls for a moratorium on redeveloping the Neil S. Blaisdell Center, which is estimated to cost nearly $500 million, so the City does not fiscally over extend itself and can focus on its number one priority – rail.

The provisions of the amended bill include:

  • Removal of House’s proposed 2 year GET extension for 2027 – 2029;
  • Increase of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) by 2.75% from its current 9.25% to 12% for 10 years from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2027;
  • Revenue generated from the TAT increases will be distributed as follows:
  1. $50 million will be set aside annually for education in a newly created education special fund;
  2. The City and County of Honolulu will receive $130 million annually over 10 years concurrently with the GET surcharge revenue that they are already receiving now;
  • $13 million of Oahu’s share of the TAT go to funding the rail project;
  • Maintaining the House position to lower the state’s share of the administrative service fee to 1%;
  • Giving all counties the option to extend the GET surcharge;
  • Requiring Honolulu to repeal any ordinance prohibiting use of county funds for rail;
  • Prohibiting the use of the GET surcharge revenue to fund HART administrative, operating, and personnel expenses.

Hawaii Senate Proposed Conference Draft Amendment Protects Neighbor Islands TAT Funds

Calling the House proposed conference draft (CD2) on SB1183 SD2 HD2 an “innovative and creative approach” to funding Honolulu’s rail project and addresses the concerns that have been raised throughout the process, the Senate today offered a counter proposal to the House CD2 which would reduce the distribution of the transient accommodation tax (TAT) funds to only the City and County of Honolulu, thereby allowing the neighbor island counties to keep their share of the TAT.  The House CD2 removes the 2-year GET extension and proposes to raise the TAT by 2.75% which is expected to raise $1.3 billion by 2027.

In introducing the amendment, Senate Ways and Means chair Sen. Jill Tokuda said that removing the TAT split was “only fair given this is a City and County of Honolulu project and would not disproportionately impact the neighbor island counties.”

“Overall, this is a grand compromise. We’ve given the city more money up front and provides a pathway to do bonding,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English. “Essentially, we’ve given the city a lot of tools to work with to finish the rail project without impacting the low-income and elderly citizens of our community through GET extensions or property tax increases.”

Island Air and JIN Air Enter Interline Agreement to Connect Customers Between South Korea and Hawaiian Islands

Island Air and Jin Air have entered into an interline partnership which allows travelers to conveniently book connections between Jin Air’s network throughout Korea and South East Asia and Island Air’s destinations in the Hawaiian Islands.

Jin Air B777-200ER

The interline agreement, which goes into effect on April 26, 2017, means customers traveling on Jin Air between Honolulu and Seoul can connect seamlessly to a neighbor island on Island Air, booking the reservation on a single ticket and checking luggage through to their final destination. The two airlines will have three interline routes, including Incheon-Honolulu-Kahului, Incheon-Honolulu-Kona, and Incheon-Honolulu-Līhu‘e.

Starting May 29, Jin Air, which first launched service to Hawai‘i in December 2015, will offer Honolulu service five times each week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) between Honolulu and Seoul. Jin Air will start interline sales on April 26.

“Island Air’s interline partnership with Jin Air provides another convenient option for visitors from Korea and other Asian markets to explore the Hawaiian Islands, while also expanding connections to Asia for our local residents,” said David Uchiyama, Island Air president and CEO. “This latest ticketing and baggage agreement with Jin Air is part of Island Air’s continuing commitment to enhance the overall travel experience for customers and to provide more opportunities for travelers to ‘Fly the Island Way’.”

Jin Air said, “With the operation of Jin Air’s only long-distance route (Incheon-Honolulu), we will build a network to the Islands of Hawai‘i through interline sales with Island Air. We will continue to strengthen our differentiation strategy with other airlines to improve customer convenience.”

In addition to Jin Air, Island Air maintains interline agreements with nine other domestic and international airlines, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, China Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, ANA, Philippine Airlines and Qantas. Island Air also has been a codeshare partner with United Airlines since 2005, which includes joint frequent flyer benefits.

Island Air offers 280 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island and plans to increase the number of interisland flights per week to more than 400 by May 1. Island Air’s flight schedule can be viewed at https://www.islandair.com/flight-schedules. Reservations can be made online at www.islandair.com or by calling (800) 652-6541.

Maui Resort to Attempt Record Longest Lei Exchange

May 1st is also known as Lei Day and is a statewide cultural celebration in Hawaii. At The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, May Day festivities will include the Longest Lei Exchange in Ka‘anapali as a unique experience and attempt to set a record, with 500+ persons targeted to be in attendance.

Nine handcrafted leis designed in celebration of May Day. Each will be unveiled on FB & Instagram @TheWestinMaui.

The significance of presenting a lei speaks to the authenticity and practice of Hawaiians in celebrating an occasion. Known as the spirit of Aloha, the lei exchange by two persons symbolizes the love, respect and friendship shared between them – whether they are family members, couples or friends.

Resort associates and family members perform in Westin Maui’s annual May Day & Aloha Week festivals. Seen here (from left): Kafa Grijalva, Corienne Keanini, Melissa Los Banos, Jasmine McCoy and Gresilda Harrison.

Pamakane Lopes of Ocean Dreamer Florals has designed nine special leis that highlight the diversity of Maui’s scenic settings and experiences featuring locations such as Haleakala, Kula, Hana, Paia, Iao Valley, Makawao, Ulupalakua, Honolua Bay and Ka‘anapali. Images of the leis will be unveiled one per day via the resort’s FB & Instagram @TheWestinMaui beginning on Aloha Friday, April 21.

Recognizing the importance of preserving Hawaiian culture, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is also committing $2,500.00 to benefit the cause of Na Leo Kalele that supports Kula Kaiapuni O Maui Ma Nāhiʻenaʻena, a Hawaiian language immersion school located within Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena public school in Lahaina, Maui. Considered a school within a school, Kula Kaiapuni O Maui Ma Nāhiʻenaʻena is unique in that it utilizes Hawaii’s indigenous language, culture, perspectives, and practices to implement its curriculum.

The Westin Maui

The event is open to Westin Maui guests and associates, local residents and island visitors. For more details on participation and sign-up in the Lei Exchange, visit the resort’s FB @TheWestinMaui. Parking is available at Whalers Village, neighboring The Westin Maui.

WHEN & WHERE:  Monday, May 1, 2017

  • 7:30 am – Check in at Aloha Pavilion, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 8:30 am – Hawaiian Blessing Ceremony with Oli Chant & Hula
  • 8:45 am – Participants begin lining up on the beachwalk side fronting Westin Maui
  • 9:00 am – Lei Exchange begins
  • 9:30 am – Craft Fair & Aloha Lei Day Activities at Aloha Pavilion

Hawaiian Airlines’ Airport Operations Lowering Fuel Use, Carbon Emissions

Carrier decreasing its reliance on jet fuel to power aircraft at the gate

Hawaiian Airlines this month achieved a key milestone in its ongoing effort to reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions when it powered all wide-body aircraft arriving at airports in a single day with electrical power at the gate. The carrier’s initiative to connect parked aircraft to more efficient external electricity is significantly reducing pilots’ use of the onboard auxiliary power unit, or APU, which burns jet fuel to keep lights, avionics systems, air conditioning and other equipment on.

The work has the potential to reduce Hawaiian’s APU usage by an estimated 30 minutes per flight, saving some 620,000 gallons of fuel annually and cutting CO2 emissions by 5,933 metric tons. That’s roughly enough fuel to fly the airline’s wide-body fleet for a day, while the carbon reductions equate to removing 1,253 cars off the streets each year.

Hawaiian Airlines ground crews connect external power to a wide-body aircraft at Honolulu International Airport.

In the past year, Hawaiian made headway toward an ambitious goal of having gate power available to its entire wide-body fleet within three minutes of arrival as aircraft fly between Hawaii, 11 U.S. gateway cities and 10 international destinations. Line service and ground crews have met the target on 92 percent of flights on average. But on April 12, in what is internally being celebrated as “100 Percent Day,” employees reached a milestone when 47 wide-body flights received external power as aircraft arrived at airports from Auckland to New York.

“It’s very much like a carefully choreographed dance requiring great timing and the tight coordination of everyone involved in bringing our airplanes to the gate once they’ve landed,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our teams must ensure the availability of working external power at the gate, monitor minute-by-minute the estimated arrival time of the aircraft, and ensure all personnel are in place and ready to receive the aircraft.”

Hawaiian already provides external gate power to its narrow-body fleet that average 170 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands. The airline also owns portable power units that can be deployed in the event jetbridge electricity is unavailable or malfunctioning.

Hawaiian’s success in reducing APU usage aligns with the carrier’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

Hawaiian, which operates one of the youngest fleet in the U.S. industry, is investing in fuel efficient aircraft by adding 18 new A321neos starting later this year. Last year, the airline conducted two demonstration flights to Honolulu from Brisbane and Auckland using a series of gate-to-gate environmental best practices outlined by the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, or ASPIRE.

Most recently, Hawaiian became the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific monitoring project that enlists commercial airlines to research climate change and air quality worldwide. Hawaiian partnered with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) venture by equipping one Airbus A330-200 aircraft with an atmospheric monitoring tool that will collect valuable data throughout the airline’s far-reaching network covering the Pacific, Asia and North America.

Hawaii Tourism Authority Statement: Rat Lungworm Disease is Very Rare and Easily Preventable in Hawaii

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement to reassure Hawaii’s tourism industry and visitors planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands that rat lungworm disease is very rare and easily preventable.

“Some national media attention has been devoted recently to rat lungworm disease in Hawaii, raising concerns among visitors and groups planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands. It is important that people not overreact and gather reliable information before making any assumptions.

“On the recommendation of the Hawaii State Department of Health, residents and visitors of Hawaii can be assured there is nothing to fear about getting infected as long as they use smart common sense when washing, preparing and storing food.

“The key facts that everyone needs to remember about rat lungworm disease is that it is very rare, it is very uncommon for people to get infected, and the disease is easily preventable by properly washing and storing all food, especially produce, before eating.

“To the visitors already in the Hawaiian Islands or planning a trip here in the coming months, there is no need to be overly concerned. Please patronize our restaurants and enjoy the delicious island cuisine and fresh produce that helps to make Hawaii such a beloved travel experience.

“I would strongly recommend anyone wanting trusted information about rat lungworm disease to visit the Department of Health website (health.hawaii.gov) and learn the facts.

“Hawaii, which has 1.4 million residents and welcomed more than 8.9 million visitors in 2016, typically has between one to 11 cases of rat lungworm disease reported annually, according to the Department of Health.

“Thus far in 2017, 11 people have been infected with the disease, nine residents and two visitors. While the cause of two cases is still being investigated, the Department of Health reports that the remaining nine cases could have been prevented with better hygiene and by properly washing, preparing and storing food.

“We hope knowing this information helps allay concerns about travel to the Hawaiian Islands, which continues to be the cleanest, healthiest, safest and most welcoming destination in the world.”