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Honolulu International Airport is the principal aviation gateway of the City & County of Honolulumarker and the State of Hawaiimarker and is identified as one of the busiest airports in the United Statesmarker, with traffic now exceeding 21 million passengers a year and rising.

It is located in the Honolulumarker census-designated place three miles (5 km) northwest of Oahu's central business district. Main roads leading to the airport are Nimitz Highway and the Queen Liliuokalani Freeway of Interstate H-1.

Honolulu International Airport serves as the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines, the largest Hawaii-based airline. Hawaiian offers flights between the various airports of the Hawaiian Islands and also serve the continental United Statesmarker, Australia, Samoamarker, Tahitimarker and the Philippinesmarker. Honolulu International Airport is host to major United States and international flagship commercial carriers with direct routes to American, Asian, and Pacific Rim destinations.

Honolulu International Airport is also the base for Aloha Air Cargo, which previously offered both passenger and cargo services. Aloha ceased passenger flights on March 31, 2008, but continues to operate cargo service under new ownership.

In 2007, the Honolulu airport performed 310,607 aircraft operations and served 21,505,855 passengers while processing 389,054 tons of cargo.


HNL opened in March 1927 as John Rodgers Airport, named after World War I naval officer John Rodgers. It was funded by the territorial legislature and the Chamber of Commerce, and was the first full airport in Hawaii: aircraft had previously been limited to small landing strips, fields or seaplane docks. From 1939 to 1943, the adjacent Keehi Lagoon was dredged for use by seaplanes, and the dredged soil was moved to HNL to provide more space for conventional airplanes.

The U.S. military grounded all civilian aircraft and took over all civilian airports after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Rodgers Field was designated Naval Air Station Honolulu. The Navy built a control tower and terminal building, and some civilian commercial traffic was allowed during daylight hours. Rodgers Field was returned to the territory in 1946. At the time, at 4,019 acres, it was one of the largest airports in the U.S., with four paved land runways and three seaplane runways.

John Rodgers Airport was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947; the word "International" was added to the name in 1951. Due to its proximity to the center of the Pacific Ocean, it was historically a stop for many transpacific flights to and from North America. By 1950, it was the third-busiest airport in the United States in terms of aircraft operations, and its 13,097-foot runway was declared the longest in the world in 1953. In 1959, Qantas began the first jet service to Honolulu as a stop on its flights between Australia and California. Aeronautical engineer and airline consultant, Frank Der Yuen, advised in the design of the original building and founded its aerospace museum.

The original terminal building was replaced by the John Rodgers Terminal, which was dedicated on August 22, 1962 and opened for passenger traffic on October 14, 1962. This terminal was expanded several times with the addition of the Diamond Head Concourse in 1970, the Ewa Concourse in 1972 and the Central Concourse in 1980.

With the advent of ultra-long range aircraft, most transpacific flights are now able to overfly Honolulu. As such, the airport has seen a notable decrease in international passenger traffic over the years, particularly to Australia, the South Pacific and southeast Asia. However, Honolulu has continued to see major growth in the domestic market as major airlines have added frequent and even non-stop links to large, previously unserved markets such as Phoenix, Newark, Denver and Atlanta.

Future plans

The new terminal expansions (red) on Honolulu International Airport depicted as part of the $2.3 billion modernization Hawaii Airports Modernization program.

On March 24, 2006, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle unveiled a $2.3 billion modernization program for Hawaii airports over a 12-year period, with $1.7 billion budgeted for Honolulu International Airport. The plan involves implementing short-term projects within the first five years to improve passenger service and increase security and operational efficiencies.

As part of the modernization program, flight display monitors throughout the airport have been upgraded, new food and beverage vendors have been added, and a new parking garage across from the International Arrivals terminal has been completed. Current projects include an international arrivals corridor with moving sidewalks built atop the breezeway leading to the Ewa Concourse, slated to be completed in 2010.

Future near-term projects include construction of a Mauka Concourse branching off the Interisland Terminal, the first concourse expansion at HNL in 15 years. Construction of the concourse will involve replacing the existing Commuter Terminal.


Honolulu International Airport is part of a centralized state structure governing all of the airports and seaports of Hawaiʻi. The official authority of Honolulu International Airport is the Governor of Hawaiʻi, who appoints the Director of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Transportation who has jurisdiction over the Hawaiʻi Airports Administrator.

The Hawaiʻi Airports Administrator oversees six governing bodies: Airports Operations Office, Airports Planning Office, Engineering Branch, Information Technology Office, Staff Services Office, Visitor Information Program Office. Collectively, the six bodies have authority over the four airport districts in Hawaiʻi: Hawaiʻi Districtmarker, Kauaʻi Districtmarker, Maui Districtmarker and the principal Oʻahu Districtmarker. Honolulu International Airport is a subordinate of the Oʻahu District officials.

Facilities and aircraft

airport has four major runways. The principal runway designated 8R/26L, also known as the Reef Runway, is the world's first major runway constructed entirely offshore. Completed in 1977, the Reef Runway is a designated alternate landing site for the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationmarker space shuttle program in association with Hickam Air Force Basemarker, which shares Honolulu International Airport's airfield operations.

In addition to the four paved runways, Honolulu International Airport has two designated offshore runways designated 8W/26W and 4W/22W for use by seaplanes.

The entire terminal complex features twenty-four hour medical services, restaurants, shopping centers and a business center with conference rooms for private use. Passengers have the option of using various short-term and long-term parking structures on the grounds of Honolulu International Airport.

For the 12-month period ending December 8, 2006, the airport had 323,726 aircraft operations, an average of 886 per day: 55% scheduled commercial, 26% general aviation, 15% air taxi and 5% military. There are 206 aircraft based at this airport: 48% single-engine, 27% multi-engine, 16% military, 6% helicopter and 3% jet.

Airlines, terminals and destinations

Cities with direct international passenger airlinks with Honolulu International Airport

Wiki Wiki bus
Honolulu International Airport has three terminal buildings. A fleet of Chance RT-52 buses provide interterminal transportation between the ticket counters of all three terminals and between the concourses in the Interisland and Main terminals. The buses, known as "Wiki Wiki" buses (from the Hawaiian word for "fast"), are the namesake for the WikiWikiWeb.

The largest airline at Honolulu airport is Hawaiian Airlines offering 13,365 seats per day, which represents a 45% market share. The #2 and #3 carriers are United and Japan Airlines (JAL) with 7.7% and 7.4% market share respectively.

Traffic to the USmarker mainland is dominated by flights to Los Angelesmarker and San Franciscomarker. These two destinations, plus Vancouvermarker and Seattlemarker, account for more than half of all flights from the mainland to Honolulumarker. Hawaiian Airlines with 10 routes has the highest market share on routes from Honolulu to the mainland.

Internationally Japanmarker is the dominant market. Two-thirds of international seats are heading either for Nagoya, Osaka Kansaimarker or Tokyo Naritamarker with services provide by Air Japan, China Airlines, JALways, Northwest or United. Narita alone is served with 61 weekly departures with Japanese carriers operating twice as many flights as US carriers.

Other major international routes are to Sydneymarker (12 weekly departures operated by Hawaiian, Jetstar and Qantas) and Vancouvermarker (19 weekly departures spread between Air Canada and Westjet). This makes Westjet the only genuine low-cost carrier serving Hawaiimarker.

In October 2009, China-based Hainan Airlines was granted approval for a nonstop flight from Honolulumarker to Beijing. Service is expected to commence in early 2010. It will be the first mainland Chinese carrier to serve Hawaiimarker and the airline's second US destination after Seattlemarker.

Commuter Terminal (Gates 71-80)

The Commuter Terminal serves smaller airlines which operate flights between both the smaller and major commercial airports in the island chain. go! uses gates 71-74, Island Air uses gates 75-77, Mokulele Airlines uses gate 79, and Pacific Wings uses gate 80. Gate 78 is currently unassigned.

Interisland Terminal (Gates 49-61)

Honolulu International Airport's Inter-island terminal.

The Interisland Terminal mainly serves the interisland and some US mainland flights of Hawaiian Airlines. It is designed to handle flights of jet aircraft between the major commercial airports in the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian uses gates 52-61. On November 19, 2008, Mokulele Airlines began interisland flights using Embraer 170 aircraft, and used Gates 49-52. As of October 14, 2009 Mokulele flights operated by Republic Airways Embraer 170 aircraft ended. Gartes 49 to 52 are currently not in use, nor is the old Aloha Airlines then Mokulele lounge near gate 52.

On the ground level, Hawaiian Airlines uses Baggage Claim B for U.S. Mainland arrivals; Baggage Claim C is used for interisland arrivals. Mokulele Airlines used to use Baggage Claim C.

Main Overseas Terminal (Gates 6-34)

Honolulu International Airport's main overseas terminal's departure area.

The Main Overseas Terminal serves U.S domestic and international destinations. All boarding gates in the Main Overseas Terminal at Honolulu International are common use, shared among all airlines, and may change daily as the need arises. No gates are assigned to any specific airline.

On February 5, 2007, the Hawaii State Department of Transportation announced a plan to construct a $45 million international arrivals corridor to connect the third floor of the Ewa Concourse directly to the International Arrivals Building and the rest of the airport. Construction began in 2008. The first phase opened on October 15, 2009, while the entire project is expected to be complete by August 2010.

General Aviation Section (charter)

Public transport

TheBus routes 19, 20, and 31 stop on the upper (departure) level of the airport. Routes 19 and 20 connect the airport to Pearlridge Center (20 only), Hickam AFBmarker (19 only), Downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana Centermarker, and Waikikimarker. Route 31 connects the airport to Tripler Army Medical Center, via Kalihi Transit Center. Routes 9, 40, 40A, 42, and 62 run on Nimitz Highway within walking distance of the airport.

Accidents and incidents

There have been three major air traffic incidents that caused air traffic controllers and federal emergency officials at Honolulu International Airport to be placed on emergency alert. All three resulted in fatalities, and one involved a global terrorist plot that some consider a precursor to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

  • Pan Am Flight 830: a bomb exploded aboard as the aircraft prepared for approach to Honolulu International Airport from Tokyomarker on August 11, 1982. One teenager was killed and 15 others were injured. The aircraft did not disintegrate, and made a safe emergency landing in Honolulu.

  • Aloha Airlines Flight 243marker: flying from Hilomarker to Honolulu International Airport on April 28, 1988, experienced a rapid decompression. An 18 feet (5 m) section of the fuselage roof and sides were torn from the airplane, due to metal fatigue. Out of the 89 passengers and 6 crew members, the only fatality was a flight attendant blown out of the airplane. Several passengers sustained life-threatening injuries. The aircraft diverted to Kahului Airportmarker.

  • United Airlines Flight 811: a Boeing 747 carrying 3 flight crew, 15 cabin crew and 337 passengers from Honolulu to Aucklandmarker on February 24, 1989, suffered rapid decompression when a cargo door separated from the aircraft after takeoff from the Reef Runway. Nine passengers were swept from the aircraft. The plane returned to Honolulu.

  • Bojinka plot: a plot discovered by US and Filipinomarker intelligence authorities after a fire in a Manila apartment, included in its first phase the planned explosion of several flights inbound to, or outbound from, Honolulu on January 21, 1995.


  1. "The State of Hawaii Airport Activity Statistics By Year 2007-1994", Department of Transportation, Airports Division, State of Hawaii.
  2. " Honolulu CDP, HI." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
  5. go! website
  6. Hawaiian Airlines website

External links

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