Massive Honolulu Airport Shutdown Will Wreak Havoc By 2023

We’ve found the reason for the flight delays to Hawaii, which have been happening almost non-stop for the last six months. And unfortunately the news isn’t great.

Yesterday we heard from Hawaiian Airlines which is instructive and launched our investigation. Today we tried to contact the FAA but couldn’t. However, we did contact the Hawaii DOT for Airports and spoke to a retired commercial pilot friend who is based in Honolulu. This post summarizes everything we’ve learned in one place so you know how to plan your flights to Hawaii.

There were 339 more flight delays in Hawaii on Wednesday and Thursday.

We’re risky guessing how many flight delays there have been to Hawaii since this mess began last spring, but the number could well top 30,000 flights at this point.

The FAA only says that in Honolulu, “expect delays of 15 minutes or less. General Departure Delays: Traffic experiences gate hold and taxi delays of 15 minutes or less. General Arrival Delays: Arrival traffic has air delays of 15 minutes or less.”

However, despite what the FAA has said, 15 minutes does not accurately represent the situation as we have been delayed well over 15 minutes on several occasions, which has also been reported in comments by countless readers. There’s a problem with snowballing delays throughout the day pounding flights, particularly the short-haul flights with quick turns between islands.

Information from the Hawaii DOT – Airport Administration Office.

We reached out to the DOT airport manager’s office today and asked about the extent and duration of the airport’s runway closure. We were told that the runway repair is a huge project and there is still no completion date when the airport’s primary runway will reopen. When we asked if it would continue well into 2023, we were told it definitely would.

We have to wonder what DOT was thinking when it decided to do this work now. Wouldn’t it have been better to do it when Hawaii travel didn’t exist during Covid?

Retired pilot John, a friend of Beat of Hawaii, had great insights.

John said the closure of the 8-liter runway is huge for both Hawaiian Airlines and HNL Airport and the other airlines. When asked how much of the airport’s total runway capacity was lost due to the outage, he said it actually accounts for more than 50% as the runways adjacent to the terminal, including 8L, are shared .

He, too, had heard that the runway would be down for some time, maybe a year, and suggested that if Hawaiian does indeed change their flight schedule and possibly delay all inter-island flights by 10 minutes, that would significantly reduce the backup could. Mainland flights, which have a much longer processing time, are less adversely affected by this situation, he said.

We spoke to John about the fact that Hawaiian operates about three times more inter-island flights than competitor Southwest, indicating just how much more Hawaiian Air’s on-time flight performance is being impacted by the outage.

Hawaiian Airlines responds to delays and HNL runway closure.

Hawaiian Airlines representative Alex DaSilva reported, “The recent delays are due to a combination of issues, most notably (as you have noted) the fact that runway 8L at our Honolulu hub has been closed for construction since early October is. The runway closure has resulted in longer gate-to-gate times for our neighboring island flights, particularly in the early hours of the morning. These early delays have usually spread through the rest of the day. We are working to adjust our schedule to reflect the impact of the runway closure going forward and are working with our partners at DOT-A and Air Traffic Control on additional measures to mitigate the impact on our guests. We pride ourselves on being on time and we share our guests’ frustration when a flight is delayed.”

Hawaiian also said that while labor shortages previously contributed to delays, they have since “hired more than 1,350 employees in 2022.

We subsequently reached out to Hawaiian to see if they regularly notify guests of expected delays and will let you know what they say. We have not been informed of our recent flight delays and many of you have said the same thing.

How to avoid hassles when traveling to, from, or through the Honolulu Airport connection.

1. Check on the day of travel FlightAware to see if your flight is on time. Also track the incoming flight and check if it is on time. To do this, use the Where’s My Plane link on FlightAware.

2. Expect delays and be prepared. If you’re not late, that’s great. Please inform us. We value your feedback. And if you’re running late, let us know so we can help others.

3. Keep in mind that the food situation at HNL is bleak at best, which has helped the airport rank at the top of airports in the US. Several airlines flying to and from Hawaii have complained to us about the plight of Hawaii’s airports.

4. Commentator Carolann suggests allowing more time when transferring at HNL. “I always try to have 2 hours before my mainland flight.”

When we wrote about them new and disappointing Honolulu Airport Mauka Concoursewe have noticed and you have confirmed in comments that there are virtually no places to eat nearby and the ones you can walk to in the next terminal are terrible and even then these concessions mostly all close by 5pm.

Have you encountered flight delays on your Hawaii trips?

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