East Maui's remote Hana Airport can only handle small planes with nine passenger seats or less. But the state Department of Transportation is hoping to change that. Eileen Chao has more from The Maui News.
Governor Abercrombie released $2.1 million earlier this year for capital improvement projects at the east Maui airport. About half was designated for the design of a new aircraft rescue and firefighting station, and the rest for other airfield improvements.
Transportation officials say these and steps are necessary to upgrade Hana Airport to a Class 3 airport – one that can accommodate planes with up to 30 passenger seats. All other airports in Maui County have been classified as Class I airports, which are able to service large jets with 31 or more seats.
Currently, Mokulele Airline is the only carrier that schedules flights to and from Hana. In addition to daily round-trip flights between Hana and Kahului, Mokulele also offers one-way trips from Molokai to Hana and from Hana to Kona. Its Cessna Grand Caravan planes can fit up to nine passengers.
There's no timeline yet for completion of the projects or how soon larger planes may start to schedule flights to Hana. The Federal Aviation Administration would have to first inspect and certify the airport as a Class 3 before any larger plane would be permitted to land at the airport.