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.

Construction Begins on Terminal Modernization Project at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Airports Division marked the start of construction on the Terminal Modernization Project Phase 1 at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The groundbreaking ceremony kicked off construction of an improved facility that will enhance the customer experience for those traveling to and from Kona.

From left to right: Ross Higashi, HDOT Deputy Director Airports Division; Chauncey Wong Yuen, Manager Kona Airport; Governor David Ige; Senator Lorraine Inouye; Frank Okimoto, Nan Inc.

The $75 million investment will focus on reorganizing the existing layout of the airport in an effort to streamline operations. Improvements will be made to the security screening area, holding rooms, concession area, and restrooms.

More than three million passengers use KOA annually. Currently, the North and South Terminals are operating as two independent terminals, requiring passengers to go through security again when exiting one terminal and entering the other. The renovation will allow passengers to freely move between terminals to promote shopping and dining in the additional retail space that will be created.

Governor David Ige speaks about the upgrades that will be made at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.

Instead of two separate security screening stations, there will be one centralized security area. The new 6-lane passenger screening checkpoint building will expedite the processing of outbound passengers and reduce the time spent in line. Baggage screening will also undergo improvements as the new inline baggage handling system will employ an Explosive Detection System for baggage screening which will improve work efficiency for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airport operations.

Additional features include new restrooms in both the public area before screening and in the terminal areas. The project also includes two covered bag drop areas for added convenience.

“The upgrades to the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport are a key component in the statewide Modernization Program,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “Joining the two terminals will boost the airport’s operational efficiency and will offer permanent solutions that will have lasting benefits for the State of Hawaii for years to come.”

“In December 2016 we were thrilled to welcome international flights from Tokyo back to Kona and we expect passenger volumes to continue to soar,” said Ford Fuchigami, Hawaii Department of Transportation Director. “Our goal is to provide each and every passenger with an enjoyable experience which will leave a positive impression with our visitors and residents.”

From left to right: Kahu Brian Boshard, Frank Okimoto, Nan Inc., Chauncey Wong Yuen, Manager Kona Airport; Senator Lorraine Inouye; Governor David Ige; Representative Nicole Lowen; Representative Cindy Evans; Ross Higashi, HDOT Deputy Director Airports Division.

The project is scheduled to be completed within two years. The lead contractor is Nan, Inc. and the design team is led by KYA.

The Terminal Modernization Project at Kona International Airport at Keahole is part of the $2.7 billion statewide Modernization Program that is improving facilities at airports statewide.

Live Fire Training at Kona International Airport Next Week

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) notifies the public that there will be live fire training at Kona International Airport for the Hawaii District Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, and Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Photo by Travis Thurston

The exercise is an annual requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The ARFF section will be testing their response protocol to a live emergency scenario involving burning fuel. HDOT informs the public that the exercise will produce smoke in the area.

Kona International Airport to Resume International Flights

Gov. David Y. Ige and the United States Customs and Border Protection announced the re-establishment of a Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility at the Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). The inaugural international flight from Kona to Tokyo, Japan is scheduled to depart on Dec. 20, 2016. The flight from Tokyo to Kona is scheduled to arrive at the Kona International Airport on Dec. 21, 2016.

ige-announcement“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-ranging positive impact on Hawai‘i Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“In fulfilling our important role protecting the border and fostering lawful travel, CBP relies on strong partnerships with stakeholders. This is why we are especially grateful for the commitment of Governor Ige and the people of Hawai‘i to providing adequate airport inspection facilities,” said Brian Humphrey, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, director, field operations. “In equal good faith, CBP is committed to providing a welcoming experience to passengers in Kona while we simultaneously protect America.”

The new FIS will benefit Hawai‘i in several ways. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation estimates new international flights to Kona will result in more than $7 million in annual projected tax benefits. International visitors will also spend tens of millions of dollars at local businesses and attractions, further boosting the economy and generating jobs. Hawai‘i has seen the numbers of international travelers increase by more than one million passengers, or nearly 60 percent, since the economic downturn in 2009. The trend in international passenger arrivals in Hawai‘i is expected to continue to grow, enhancing the need for a second airport to accept flights from international destinations.

The secondary international point of entry in Kona will ease congestion at the Honolulu International Airport, especially during daily peak hours and busy travel seasons. The FIS will improve health and safety by increasing resiliency in an emergency. Should an unforeseen incident occur in Honolulu, international flights would still be able to land safely in Kona. Currently, Honolulu is the only landing option in the state for international flights.

The United States Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ request to fly non-stop international flights between Kona and Haneda International Airport in Tokyo beginning in December.

“We look forward to welcoming our Tokyo guests with our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as they enjoy the convenience of our direct flights to the spectacular Kona coast,” said Peter Ingram, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are pleased to return international flights to the Big Island and thankful to all of our government, business and community partners for their support of our newest route.”

Several improvements are being made to the international arrivals section at KOA, including the installation of security cameras and motion sensors, an upgraded access control system, 10 Automated Passport Control kiosks to process incoming international passengers quickly and efficiently, and refurbished restrooms.

“After multiple meetings and on-site visits, we finally made it across the finish line,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “I thank CBP and the Obama Administration for recognizing the potential of our visitor industry and for working with the State of Hawaii, the people of Kona, and many others in state government and the hospitality industry to finally get this done.”

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawai‘i’s tourism industry and the Hawai‘i Island economy. In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

“Today’s announcement not only positively impacts our tourism-based economy, it addresses a critical safety and security need for our state by providing a secondary international port in case of emergency,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This project has been a priority of mine, and became a reality through many years of hard work by community leaders, local businesses, and county, state, and Federal government.  I especially want to thank HDOT and CBP for their leadership and upholding their commitment to reopening international travel to Kona.”

Regularly scheduled international flights to Kona began in 1996 and were discontinued in October 2010.

Big Island Police Charge Kona Man (Again) With Theft of Pickup Truck From Kona Airport

A Kona man has been charged with two offenses in connection with the theft of a pickup truck from Kona International Airport at Keāhole.

Colvin Gaspar

Colvin Gaspar

Sometime over the weekend (September 28-29), a 2004 Toyota Tacoma was removed from a parking area at the airport.

Kona patrol officers located the truck Monday (September 30) down an embankment off Koloko Drive. Investigation led to the arrest of 21-year-old Colvin Gaspar of Kailua-Kona. He was taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

On Tuesday (October 1), detectives charged Gaspar with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and second-degree theft. His bail was set at $20,000. He remained at the cellblock until his initial court appearance Wednesday (October 2).

Kona International Airport Dedicates New Air Traffic Control Tower, Breaks Ground For Aircraft Rescue & Fire-Fighting Station

The state Department of Transportation celebrated the dedication of a new Air Traffic Control Tower and a groundbreaking for a new Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting (ARFF) facility at the Kona International Airport on Wednesday.

Kona Airport Tower

The new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Traffic Control Tower will provide improved visibility over all movement areas and air traffic patterns.  It replaces the previous tower which had served Kona International since July 1970.  Construction on the new tower began in December 2009 at an approximate cost of $34.86 million.

Ground was also broken for a new 24,000 square-foot ARFF facility which will include two truck bays, a trailer bay and a fueling area, along with improved work and living areas for firefighters, office space, dorm rooms and a workout area.  The new station will replace the existing ARFF station, originally built in 1980.  FAA funding will cover $14.6 million, or nearly 86-percent, of the total project cost of $17 million and state funds will provide the remainder.

“Kona International Airport is the gateway for visitors and residents alike and the new fire-fighting station and FAA tower will enable us to continue to provide a safe environment,” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui.  ”This is also an important investment to support our economic driver – tourism.”

“This investment in operational upgrades represents a strong commitment by the state and federal government to ensure safety and operational efficiency,” said DOT Director Glenn Okimoto.  ”These projects also pave the way for further improvements at Kona International Airport, including a terminal modernization that is part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s New Day Work Projects.”

“Watching these projects come to fruition is a testament to the hard work and cooperation of so many people in state and federal government, airport stakeholders, and the construction industry,” said DOT Deputy Director of Airports, Ford Fuchigami.  ”Our improvements are the direct result of this collaboration and we are very thankful for these continuing efforts.”

The new Air Traffic Control Tower went into operation in December of last year and the ARFF station is anticipated to be completed in spring of 2013.


Governor Abercrombie Releases $113 Million for Hawaii’s Airports and Harbors

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of $113 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) at airports and harbors throughout the State of Hawaii.


“These important projects will improve the airport experience across the state – from Hilo to Lihue – as well as the efficiency and capacity at our harbors,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Funding for many of the Honolulu Harbor improvements are part of a larger New Day Work Project that will increase harbor shipping capacity.”

Allotment of funds for the following priority projects, identified by members of the state Legislature, has been approved by the Governor:


  • $50,000,000 – Kahului Airport, Maui – Construction for a multi-lane access road from Hana Highway to the Airport Loop Road; this segment of the Kahului Airport Access Road will connect with the state Highway Division’s segment starting on Hana Highway
  • $9,800,000 – Kona International Airport at Keahole, Hawaii Island – Construction for the re-roofing of the terminal building
  • $3,000,000 – Kahului Airport, Maui – Phase I construction for restroom renovations, including the addition of restroom air conditioning
  • $590,000 – Kona International Airport at Keahole, Hawaii Island – Construction for security improvements at security checkpoints and the Airport Operations Area fence
  • $400,000 – Honolulu International Airport, Oahu – Additional funds to complete the installation of a security access control system and video monitoring equipment; the  additional construction funds are to address unforeseen site conditions relating to the existing electrical conduits and fiber optic cable backbone
  • $378,000 – Pavement Management System, Phase 1, statewide – Evaluation of the pavement conditions at Honolulu International and Kahului Airports to produce program reports to fulfill Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, plan future projects, and determine which areas need repairs or reconstruction
  • $198,716 – Molokai Airport, Molokai – Construction of a new box culvert to replace the existing trapezoidal ditch adjacent to the taxiway; this will bring the taxiway safety area into compliance with current FAA regulations
  • $160,000 – Car rental facilities, statewide – Additional plans to provide preparation of studies, project definition reports, surveys, appraisals, and conceptual plans for program management of car rental facilities at Honolulu International Airport, Kahului Airport, Lihue Airport, and Kona International Airport at Keahole
  • $152,000 – Pavement Management System, Phase 2, statewide – Evaluation of the pavement conditions at Kona International, Hilo International, and Lihue Airports to produce program reports to fulfill FAA requirements, plan future projects, and determine which areas need repairs or reconstruction


  • $10,000,000 – Honolulu Harbor, Oahu – Construction of new mooring structures and upgrades to existing utilities and infrastructure at Piers 12 and 15 to accommodate the relocation of the Clean Island Council and Marine Spill Response Corporation vessels from Pier 35
  • $9,500,000 – Honolulu Harbor, Oahu – Construction of site improvements including utilities, pavement, and a new box culvert to support the relocation of the UH Marine Center from the Kapalama Military Reservation
  • $8,500,000 – Honolulu Harbor, Oahu – Construction for renovation of the existing building and related utilities at Pier 35 to accommodate the relocation of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (UH SOEST) from the proposed new Kapalama Container Terminal project site
  • $7,500,000 – Honolulu Harbor, Oahu – Design for the new Kapalama Container Terminal project to support expanding maritime activities in the harbor, as part of the Harbors New Day Work Project; the design funds will be used for Phase 2 of the project to prepare plans, designs, specifications, and cost estimates to construct a new container yard, roadways and gates, buildings, security fencing, utility infrastructure improvements, and related activities
  • $6,000,000 – Hilo Harbor, Hawaii Island – Construction to widen Kumau Street at Hilo Harbor to accommodate container, cargo and vehicle movements between Pier 4 and Kalanianaole Avenue
  • $2,000,000 – Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor, Oahu – Plans to develop a dedicated fuel berth at the Piers P-3 and P-4 areas as well environmental documentation and preparation of a comprehensive master plan to guide future harbor development
  • $1,800,000 – Hilo Harbor, Hawaii – Construction management and inspections services for a new pier and related utilities at Pier 4 and to widen Kumau Street to accommodate cargo movement and vehicles
  • $1,450,000 – Honolulu Harbor, Oahu – Construction management and inspection services for the rehabilitation of buildings and yard areas at Piers 34/35, improvements to the utility systems, pavement overlay, and construction of a new box culvert
  • $1,000,000 – Honolulu Harbor, Oahu – Construction management and inspection services for the construction of new mooring structures and upgrade of existing utilities and infrastructure at Piers 12 and 15 to accommodate the relocation of the Clean Island Council and Marine Spill Response Corporation vessels that will be relocated from Pier 35
  • $600,000 – Kahului Harbor, Maui – Design to relocate the Harbors Maui District Office and demolish the existing office and a store facility in accordance with the Kahului Harbor Development Plan

Fire Training at the Kona International Airport with Geoff Mackley

Video blog of yesterday’s activities at the Kona International Airport via the Kona Fire Rescue team starting with a point of view response to a code 3 of 5000 liters of aviation fuel on fire and finishing with a return drive to the station up the main runway of Kona International Airport yesterday, February 8th, 2013.


Off The Fence Productions for the Weather Channel series “Masters of Nature”.  Be sure to watch it !


Island Skydiving Completes Exploratory Jumps at Upolu Airport on the Big Island

Island Skydiving, LLC has successfully completed exploratory skydives at Upolu Airport over the prior two weekends. A request has been sent to Mr. Wong Yuen, Manager, Kona International Airport, State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Airport’s Division for permission to begin daily skydiving operations at Upolu Airport beginning September 1, 2011.

Jujmping over the Upolu Airport

Island Skydiving, LLC is managed by Mr. Frank Hinshaw, who has extensive experience in operating skydiving activities at Skydive Hawaii. Tandem skydiving is the safest and easiest method to experience skydiving, and has become a favorite among both tourists and the local residents on Oahu. Tandem instructors are licensed by the United States Parachute Association and the parachute equipment is manufactured and maintained according to FAA regulations.

Frank T.K. Hinshaw and Frank Hinshaw

The company plans are to begin tandem skydiving at Upolu Airport when permission is granted. Operational hours will be limited due to the wind and other weather conditions. Tandem skydiving reservations are being planned for the hours of 6:00AM to 10:00AM daily, as wind conditions are most favorable for tandem skydiving during that period.

Due to the limited hours of operation the price for a tandem skydive is tentatively priced around $325 per person. The company has set a goal of 1,000 tandem customers in the first year of operation.

The company plans to have 2 full-time tandem staff when operations are started. At least two additional local jobs are expected to also be created by the company directly from these planned operations. Tandem skydiving should be a good compliment to the other outdoor recreational activities presently available and another opportunity for tourists to shop at other existing businesses in the greater Kohala community.

A successful landing at Upolu Airport

For more information, contact Frank Hinshaw at 808 637-4121.