HONOLULU (KHON2) — Travel is already picking up at Hawaii’s airports and could increase significantly in less than two weeks.
Residents who are fully vaccinated can fly inter-island without getting tested for COVID-19 starting on May 11. There are also lots of changes happening at the airport.
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One of the new things travelers will find at the Honolulu airport is a screening process in a fenced off area by the canine unit — and that could lead to a longer line outside.
TSA says travelers screened by the canine unit will move faster through the security line because they won’t have to take off their shoes and jackets. With inter-island travel expected to pick up, officials say staffing is ready. Concession stands will be adjusting to the increase.
“They look at the traffic flow, and I’m very sure that they’re going to be opening up and extending the hours of every food and beverage concession,” said Ross Higashi, deputy director of the Airports Division and the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
Travelers will also notice a lot of construction around the airport. Part of that is from the rail project. As for the three pedestrian bridges, they are being rebuilt for safety, so one bridge is always closed. An additional concourse is being built to Terminal 1, which can add up to 11 gates and should be done by September.
“You’re going to be able to get to the gates quicker, you’ll be able to get processed quicker and you’ll be off and running to your hotel,” said Higashi.
Higashi says there are some problems with a few elevators and escalators broken. There are delays with getting parts among insurance issues. New bathrooms are also being built because many are old. The new rental car terminal is still in the works but should be done by the end of the year.
“That will bring back out 1,000 stalls that were being utilized by rental car concessions, so public stalls, a thousand more added to our inventory,” said Higashi.
He says parking should not be a problem at this point with more than 4,600 stalls, but with new Safe Travels procedures to show proof of vaccination, expect delays. Higashi recommends arriving at least two hours before the flight.
Hawaiian Airlines will increase capacity next month going from 32 to 45 roundtrip flights daily. That’s still only about half of what the company was doing pre-pandemic.