United Airlines chief executive Oscar Munoz is not happy about the current state of Hawaii’s airports. Speaking to the media, the aviation leader warns that without upgrades and improvements to air traffic facilities, Hawaii could start to lag for air tourism dollars.
In light of increased aviation attention to Hawaii’s islands, one executive believes the airports need to be fixed sooner rather than later. Speaking to the media, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz called on the island to improve their airports, or get left behind by tourists.
Munoz met with United employees on the islands as part of a world tour of United’s service. In Honolulu, he told reporters he was not pleased with his findings at Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
“I hate to be over dramatic but we’ve got to fix this,” Munoz told Hawaii News Now. “I toured this airport with our team this morning … and literally things are coming off the wall.”
In Maui, Munoz specifically called out the need for terminal upgrades and improved baggage handling systems. And while United is interested in being part of the process, the executive put the impetus for change on the state government.
“The baggage system in particular would be something that we would love to participate in the investment of,” Munoz told Maui Now after touring Kahului Airport. “But everybody has to agree and the government has to help fund.”
United has pledged $200 million in upgrades to their facilities in Hawaii, including terminal and lounge spaces. The money is only 6% of the $3 billion that the Hawaii Department of Transportation has earmarked for airport improvements.
While Munoz is unimpressed by Hawaii’s airports, FlyerTalkers are torn about their current state. While some appreciate the retro charm, it’s agreed that the facilities could use some improvement.
“On one hand, I love the 70s-era nostalgia and “feel” of the terminal…but on the other, it’s functionally obsolete and clearly becoming costly to maintain,” writes FlyerTalker EWR764. “Hopefully the renovations can strike a balance between the Island ethos the current facility most definitely has and still meet modern needs.”
“A lot of people flying to HNL are not necessarily tourists,” HNLBasedFlyer notes. “Honolulu is roughly the 50th largest city in the US – there are business travelers, and military and government workers. And residents…many things can be done to retain a unique island feel – I suspect it was a nice terminal in the 70’s but it is downright awful now. The State waited far too long to start modernization projects.”
“Given the overall level in infrastructure in Hawaii, and that Hawaii does not need an airport to try to attract industry, I think the best course of action is what Hawaii did – which is wait for the airline to pony up the [cash],” FlyerTalker spin88 opines. “If [United] pays for $200 million in improvements, great for them!”
How do you feel about Honolulu’s airports? Let us know in the FlyerTalk forums.
[Featured Image: Flickr/ Ken Lund]