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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 23, 2010

Expansion takes flight

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The planned exterior of the Mauka Concourse, which can handle new widebody jets.

Courtesy of the state Department of Transportation

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A photo illustration of what the Mauka Concourse for interisland passengers will look like.

Courtesy of the state Department of Transportation

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The state is set to begin preliminary work next month on a major expansion of the Interisland Terminal at the Honolulu International Airport, the first significant piece of a $2.3 billion statewide airport modernization plan.

The Mauka Concourse, a 220,000-square-foot L-shaped structure with 12 gates, will replace the old commuter terminal currently used by go! Mokulele, Island Air and other smaller carriers. The new concourse, which will be able to accommodate the new Airbus widebody jets that Hawaiian Airlines is adding to its fleet, is scheduled to be completed by 2013.

The concourse will have five new security screening lanes, two restrooms each for men and women, four family restrooms, restaurants, information kiosks and a premier club.

Island Air and go! Mokulele will move into the Interisland Terminal this summer to make way for demolition of the commuter terminal.

"This relocation will be a tremendous benefit for the traveling public because of the convenience of accessible parking and check-in, as well as having many more passenger amenities in the IIT," said Brian Sekiguchi, the state Department of Transportation's deputy director of the airports division.

"In addition, passengers connecting to or from Mainland flights will have significantly less walking distance and do not have to undergo additional security screening as they do now at the remote commuter terminal," he said.

The Mauka Concourse is the first of several major upgrades at Honolulu International Airport expected to total $1.7 billion through 2021. The plans also call for replacing the 'Ewa and Diamond Head concourses and renovating the main concourse, all of which are in the main terminal.

The DOT website calls the project a "multi-year effort to transform Honolulu International Airport into a distinctive, functional airport, worthy of a first-class visitor destination, to meet the growing needs of residents and visitors alike."

The Department of Transportation estimates that the statewide modernization effort will generate 40,000 jobs over the life of the project.

Pasadena, Calif.-based Parsons Aviation is the program manager for the airport project. Parsons has managed dozens of airport projects in recent years, including ones in Abu Dhabi, Athens, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Some smaller elements of the airport modernization program are already underway. The DOT last fall completed the first section of an enclosed, air-conditioned corridor with a moving walkway for international arrivals. The first phase of the project serves gates 26 to 30 in the 'Ewa Concourse, where Japan Airlines lands most of its jets.

When the $37 million project is completed later this year, it will have three sections of moving walkways totaling 2,100 feet, and result in a reduction of Wiki Wiki buses to eight from 13.

In preparation for construction of the Mauka Concourse, the DOT next month will begin renovating the Interisland Terminal to accommodate the commuter airlines that will move there. Work will include new ticket counters, baggage claim offices and signage for the commuter airlines, according to a newsletter from the DOT's Airports Division.

Airport modernization projects are also moving forward on the Neighbor Islands.

At Kahului Airport, installation of an explosive detection system is expected to be completed this summer. A new baggage carousel was recently installed at Kona International Airport's South Terminal.

And work is continuing on a new $30 million cargo building at the Hilo International Airport. The 60,000-square-foot building will include cargo space for 10 tenants, office space, laboratory and inspection facilities, climate-controlled areas and an animal quarantine area. It is expected to be finished by the end of 2011.