Construction at Honolulu Airport is causing delays with the state’s largest airline.
Hawaiian Airlines says construction is one of the reasons it lost its title as the nation’s on-time leader.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s monthly report, the new on-time leader is Delta Air Lines, followed by Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian.
“Generally we fly almost exclusively Hawaiian and it’s been good, haven’t run into any real problems the vast majority of the time,” said traveler Will Burke.
“I love Hawaiian Airlines. They’ve never failed me,” said traveler Jennifer Galinato. “(They’re) always on time with me, yes.”
But the carrier’s on-time performance has slipped.
During the month of August, Hawaiian’s North America and neighbor island flights arrived on schedule 81.5-percent of the time.
Hawaiian Airlines says several factors contributed to the company’s worst on-time performance in more than a decade.
Hawaiian’s president and CEO Mark Dunkerley said, “More flights and more passengers created a shortage of gates to handle our flights at Honolulu International Airport and led to delays in processing passengers.”
“I’ve changed gates once I think in the last year. We actually got all the way on the plane, all the way off, had to go to a second plane,” Burke said.
Hawaiian officials also put part of the blame on airport construction, mainly the state’s multi-year Airport Modernization Program.
The project includes a new concourse and terminal, which means 12 new gates. It’s scheduled to be completed in two years.
“Airport Modernization has been a long time coming and we are certainly very happy to see it underway, but we have felt and will continue to feel short-term pain associated with this project,” Dunkerley said.
Travelers say they experience more problems with the airport than with the airline.
“We just took a half hour in the (agriculture) inspection right now after the freeway backed up so we’re kind of behind,” said traveler Leslie Crow.
“There’s more congestion in this (check-in) area than with the airline itself,” Burke said.
In response, state Department of Transportation director Ford Fuchigami said, “Hawaiian Airlines represents 51 percent of all enplanements out of HNL and, therefore, statistically will experience the brunt of the delays; more than any other carrier.”
DOT officials also said August is the busiest month of the year for the airport.