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Kona International Airport at Keāhole is an airport on the Island of Hawai imarker, in Kalaoa CDPmarker, Hawai i County, Hawai imarker, United Statesmarker. The airport serves leeward, or Western Hawai i island, including the town of Kailua-Konamarker and the major resorts of the North Konamarker and South Kohala districts.


The state government of Hawai i facility operates an runway and a terminal complex of single story buildings along the eastern edge of the airfield for arriving and departing passengers, air cargo and mail, airport support, and general aviation operations.

Kona International is the only remaining major airport in the Hawaiian Islands where a mobile ramp is used to plane and deplane passengers. Kona International sees daily 717, 737, 757, 767, and 777 aircraft, as well as smaller inter-island aircraft, and general private aviation. The airport terminal is a rambling, open-air set of structures. Long after other airports in Hawai i converted their terminals to multi-story buildings with automated jetway systems, Hawaiian Airlines could still utilize their DC-9 fleet's tailcone exits at Kailua-Kona.

An environmental impact statement was prepared in 2005 to add a second runway. The United States Air Force investigated building a second runway in 2009. This would be used for practicing landing C-17 military cargo planes on a short runway. Although the runway allows flights to Japan and Chicago, it is the only major airport in Hawaii with only one.

Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center

A small museum, the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center, is located between the passenger terminals at the airport. It is named in honor of Kona-born Ellison Onizuka who died in 1986 on the Space Shuttle Challenger. The displays include a sample of lunar soil, a space suit from Apollo 13, and personal items from Ellison Onizuka. An admission fee is charged.


Much of the airport runway is built on a relatively recent lava flow: the 1801 Hu ehu e flow from Hualālaimarker. This flow extended the shoreline out an estimated , adding some of land to the islandand creating Keāhole Pointmarker. The airport was moved to this location and dedicated on July 1, 1970, when the previous smaller airstrip was converted into the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Areamarker.

Construction crews from Bechtel Corportation had used three million pounds of dynamite to flatten the lava flow (which was riddled with Lava tubes) within 13-months.

In its first full year, 515,378 passengers passed through the new open-air tropical-style terminals.The aquaculture ponds and solar energy experiments at the nearby Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authoritymarker (NELHA) can be seen during landing and take-off.

It was originally known as Ke-āhole Airport, since the āhole fish (Kuhlia sandvicensis) was found nearby.

The main runway was extended in 1993 to make it the largest in the Hawaiian Islands outside of Honolulumarker, when it was renamed Keāhole-Kona International Airport.

In 1997 it officially became known as the Kona International Airport at Keāhole.

Airlines and destinations

Accidents and incidents

  • On August 25, 1977, an Air Cargo Hawaii twin-engine turbo-prop Short SC.7 Skyvan crashed and burned while attempting to land at Keahole Airport. The pilot and passenger were killed. The crash occurred about short of the runway.
  • On September 10, 1989, the pilot of an Aero Commander 680 was making an emergency landing on runway 17 due to loss of power in the right engine. He crashed about southwest of the runway. One fatality and one serious injury.


  1. " Kalaoa CDP, Hawaii." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
  2. "Air Force looks to add another runway at Kona airport" in West Hawaii Today, May 16, 2009
  3. Onizuka Space Center official web site
  4. Onizuka Space Center on Hawaii Museum Association web site
  5. Fishponds versus lava flows, USGS, 1997
  6. John R. K. Clark, Hawai i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites, published by University of Hawaii Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8248-2451-8
  7. Kona Airport master plan official web site

External links

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