I spent a few weeks in Hawaii last month and came away with a deeper appreciation for the extensive range capacity of air travel. The inhabited Hawaiian islands are some of the most isolate lands in the world. They are surrounded by roughly 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean in any direction. This geography alone, makes air travel a primary mode of transportation.
While large commercial airliners carry passengers from the West coast of the United States, Japan and elsewhere, smaller aircraft service the significant inter-island travel. The inter-island carriers are reminiscent of intercontinental carriers in Europe, where average flight times are under an hour. However, in Hawaii, travel between islands is the sole provenance of air travel.
Several years ago, under the state’s previous administration, an inter-island passenger ship ferried people and their vehicles from Oahu to Maui. Yet a wounded economy and local environmental concerns sank the passenger boat service business.There are harbors, of course on each island, yet only a few have deep-water ports for large cargo ships. Several of the islands also have more than one airfield.
On Maui for instance, the main airport is in Kahului (OGG) which is centrally located in the valley isle. After Hawaii island or the Big Island, as it’s called, Maui is the next largest island in the chain. On the Western side of Maui, near the town of Lahaina - a major source of tourism - is the Kapalua airport (JHM). On the opposite side in the island, is the Hana airport (HNM). Both of these airports are limited in their capacity to receive traffic from 737’s and Airbuses, but they are prime landing strips for smaller business aircraft.
Likewise, on nearby Molokai, the main airstrip is at Hoolehua (MKK) is centrally located. But on the isolated north shore of the isle, is the Kalaupapa runway (LUP). This runway solely services the national park, which has the world’s tallest sea cliffs and rich history as former leprosy settlement founded by the recently canonized, Father Damien. Access to the park is limited, air traffic to the seashore strip is also rare.
The volcanic Hawaiian islands boast stunning views of green mountains that rise up directly from the sea. This terrain, like many other places in the world, is best navigated by nimble aircraft capable of landing on a limited footprint. Business aircraft has proven time and time again to place passengers safely in some of the world’s most exotic locations. Given the opportunity, would you rather step off the runway and into a giant terminal, or directly onto a distant shore?
BAN is a member supported community. We need your financial support. Please Support Business Aviation Network. All funds go directly to offset operating cost. Thank you!