By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
The state is proposing to extend the Lanai Airport runway to allow larger commercial aircraft to land on the island owned by David Murdocks Castle & Cooke Inc., and the company would have to pick up only 12 percent of the $24.6 million cost.
A state Department of Transportation report to the Legislature recommends that the existing 5,000-foot runway be extended by 2,000 feet to allow aircraft to use the airport without weight restrictions.
The largest commercial passenger aircraft to land there now are Island Airs DeHavilland-8 prop aircraft and Hawaiian Airlines DC-9 jets.
The runway extension could be a signal that Murdock, chief executive of Castle & Cooke Inc., which has control of nearly all of Lanai, is preparing another wave of development.
Castle & Cooke Resorts LLC, a subsidiary of Castle & Cooke Inc., would pay about $3 million what would have been the states portion of the project and federal transportation money would cover the rest, said Jerry Matsuda, administrator at the DOTs Airports Division. Construction could start within three years if federal money is approved, he said.
An expanded runway would allow Boeing 737, 757 and 767 jets to land on Lanai, Matsuda said.
"News of such an expansion would be posted throughout the world, so if there are any airlines that feel it is a good market, theyll be working on it," Matsuda said.
Island Air, a subsidiary of Aloha Airlines, flies from Honolulu to Lanai seven times a day. Hawaiian Airlines flies the same route twice a day.
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