HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Transportation Security Administration machine going down for the second time in less than a month at the Hilo Airport has residents and lawmakers calling for a look at the existing system.
This comes as Hawaii Island’s largest event is just days away with thousands expected to head to Hilo.
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According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, on Saturday at 5:45 a.m., one of two security checkpoint lanes went down at the Hilo Airport.
“I got to the airport, maybe about an hour before my flight, which is usually plenty of time, but I did see that the regular TSA line was about twice as long as the actual line is,” said Anthony Pfluke, a Hilo resident.
HDOT said, the issue was resolved by noon. Meanwhile, last month TSA reported an equipment failure impacted the ability to screen carry-on luggage causing a travel nightmare for a few days.
TSA said the delays to repairs were due to not having technicians or extra parts on island. Residents and officials agree it’s time for a system upgrade.
“The system needs to be improved so that we can all work and live smoother and travel better,” Pfluke said.
“I know it’s going to take time and they’re upgrading the newest equipment in the most traveled airports, the ones that have greater amount of traffic,” said Rep. Richard Onishi, (D) Hilo.
TSA has already announced upgrades for the Kahului and Lihue airports from new security lanes to machines, but lawmakers said they’ll work with TSA to assess Hilo’s equipment.
Especially when it comes to the safety and security of our citizens, something as important as flying, we need to make sure that it is continuously maintained, that we know how much useful life is left on these aging equipment and really commit ourselves to making sure that we replace it in a timely manner.”Rep. Jill Tokuda, (D) Hawaii.
According to TSA, the equipment that was inoperable over the weekend was not the same as last month’s situation.
HDOT said it’s working hand in hand to make sure things run smoothly with the Merrie Monarch Festival coming up.
“We have an alert system in place to make sure we can get alerts out to people immediately once something goes down in that area,” said Ed Sniffen, HDOT director.
Hawaiian Airlines is also bracing for the influx of travelers to Hawaii Island and is adding 36 extra flights to Hilo between April 11 to 17.