HONOLULU (KHON2) — As the state gets ready to loosen travel restrictions, Hawaii’s airports are about to get very busy. It comes at a time when the airports and the TSA are in need of workers.

TSA says it needs about 100 workers statewide, the state Department of Transportation says airports need another 200 workers statewide.

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The state says airport traffic has picked up since Memorial Day weekend.

On June 15, the state will drop restrictions for inter-island travel and allow those inoculated in Hawaii to get vaccine exceptions, which should entice even more residents to travel.

“We definitely expect this summer to be maybe not 2019 levels, but pretty close. We’re seeing it, that’s for sure, at all our airports across the state,” said Jai Cunningham, Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman.

The state says tourism is now at 70% of the pre-pandemic level. Getting the airports fully staffed will be a challenge during peak travel season. At Daniel K Inouye International Airport, about 20,000 travelers depart daily.

“So we try to have all lanes open,” said Jenel Chang, TSA Federal Security Director. “We are running our canines to make sure the operations stay efficient. Then we’re working with the airlines to move passengers to wherever the lines are lowest.”

Officials recommend getting to the airport at least two hours early for an inter-island flight, and three hours for a mainland flight. TSA says when going through the security line try to avoid bringing food because it takes longer to screen those items.

“So if you are carrying food items, make sure you take those out, put them in a separate bin so that we can expedite that process a little bit,” said Chang.

She points out that daily peak times at the airport in Honolulu are now earlier because airlines have moved their mainland departures earlier. So the long lines are usually from 9 a.m. until noon. The state says it will constantly coordinate with the airlines to try and minimize wait times.

“So there’s constant work that goes on planning, plotting out as far as once the planes are on the ground, how to get them to certain gates, what planes are then turned back around. So it’s a real art form,” said Cunningham.

Those interested in working for TSA can get more information at https://www.tsa.gov/about/jobs-at-tsa.

Those interested in working at Hawaii’s airports can get information at the links below.

HDOT Civil Service job postings:


HDOT Non-Civil Service postings: