Honolulu International Airport

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Honolulu International Airport
WMO: 91182
Airport typePublic / Military
OwnerState of Hawaii
OperatorDepartment of Transportation
ServesHonolulu, Island of O'ahu
LocationHonolulu, Hawaii, US
Hub for
Focus city forAllegiant Air
Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates21°19′07″N 157°55′21″W / 21.31861°N 157.92250°W / 21.31861; -157.92250Coordinates: 21°19′07″N 157°55′21″W / 21.31861°N 157.92250°W / 21.31861; -157.92250
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations278,145
Total passengers19,291,412
Total cargo (metric tonnes)412,270
Sources: ACI[1]
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For the United States Air Force use of this facility, see Hickam Air Force Base.
Honolulu International Airport
WMO: 91182
Airport typePublic / Military
OwnerState of Hawaii
OperatorDepartment of Transportation
ServesHonolulu, Island of O'ahu
LocationHonolulu, Hawaii, US
Hub for
Focus city forAllegiant Air
Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates21°19′07″N 157°55′21″W / 21.31861°N 157.92250°W / 21.31861; -157.92250Coordinates: 21°19′07″N 157°55′21″W / 21.31861°N 157.92250°W / 21.31861; -157.92250
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations278,145
Total passengers19,291,412
Total cargo (metric tonnes)412,270
Sources: ACI[1]

Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNLICAO: PHNLFAA LID: HNL) is the principal aviation gateway of the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii and is identified as one of the busiest airports in the United States, with traffic now exceeding 21 million passengers a year and rising.[2]

It is located in the Honolulu census-designated place three miles (5 km) northwest of Oahu's central business district.[3][4] Main roads leading to the airport are Nimitz Highway and the Queen Liliuokalani Freeway of Interstate H-1.

Honolulu International Airport serves as the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines, the largest Hawaii-based airline. Hawaiian offers flights between the various airports of the Hawaiian Islands and also serves the continental United States, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tahiti, Japan, and South Korea. It is host to major United States and international airlines, with direct flights to American, Asian, and Pacific Rim destinations. In addition to not only serving most major western cities, and many smaller ones especially in California, recent announcements have revealed new routes on the East Coast to both Toronto and Washington-Dulles joining the already established routes to Atlanta, New York City and Newark.

It is also the base for Aloha Air Cargo, which previously offered both passenger and cargo services under the name Aloha Airlines. This airline ceased passenger flights on March 31, 2008 and sold off its cargo services to Seattle-based Saltchuk Resources, Inc (also owners of inter-island sea-based shipping company Young Brothers and Hawaiian Tug & Barge.)

In 2012, the airport handled 19,291,412 passengers, 278,145 aircraft movements and processed 412,270 metric tonnes of cargo.[1]

Tourists wanting to get from the Honolulu International Airport to their hotel in Waikiki can use public transportation (The Bus), taxi cab, airport shuttle or rental car.[5]


HNL opened in March 1927 as John Rodgers Airport, named after World War I naval officer John Rodgers.[6] It was funded by the territorial legislature and the Chamber of Commerce, and was the first full airport in Hawaii: aircraft had previously been limited to small landing strips, fields or seaplane docks. From 1939 to 1943, the adjacent Keehi Lagoon was dredged for use by seaplanes, and the dredged soil was moved to HNL to provide more space for conventional airplanes.[citation needed]

The U.S. military grounded all civil aircraft and took over all civil airports after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Rodgers Field was designated Naval Air Station Honolulu. The Navy built a control tower and terminal building, and some commercial traffic was allowed during daylight hours. Rodgers Field was returned to the Territory of Hawaii in 1946. At the time, at 4,019 acres (16.26 km2), it was one of the largest airports in the United States, with four paved land runways and three seaplane runways.[6]

John Rodgers Airport was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947; "International" was added to the name in 1951.[6] Being near the center of the Pacific Ocean it was a stop for many transpacific flights. By 1950 it was the third-busiest airport in the United States in terms of aircraft operations, and its 13,097-foot (3,992 m) runway was the longest in the world in 1953.[6] In summer 1959 Qantas began the first jet service to Honolulu on its flights between Australia and California.[7] Aeronautical engineer and airline consultant, Frank Der Yuen, advised in the design of the original building and founded its aerospace museum.[8]

The original terminal building on the southeast side of runways 4 was replaced by the John Rodgers Terminal, which was dedicated on August 22, 1962 and opened on October 14, 1962.[6] From 1970 through 1978, the architect Vladimir Ossipoff designed a terminal modernization project that remodeled this terminal and created several additions,[9][10] which included the Diamond Head Concourse in 1970, the Ewa Concourse in 1972, and the Central Concourse in 1980.[11]

Pan Am used Honolulu as a transpacific hub for many years, initially as a connecting point between the West Coast and Polynesia (Fiji, New Caledonia and New Zealand) in 1946,[12] followed by service to East Asia through Midway Island and Wake Island from 1947.[13] By the mid-1970s Pan Am offered nonstop service from Honolulu to Japan, Guam, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, as well as to cities on the West Coast.[14] Continental Airlines used Honolulu as a stopover point for charter service to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War era, and to feed its Guam-based Air Micronesia operation.[15] American Airlines also operated flights to Australia and the South Pacific through Honolulu from 1970 to 1975.[16] Many foreign carriers used Honolulu as a transpacific stopover point, including Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.[17]

Modernization and history since 2006[edit]

On March 24, 2006 Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle unveiled a $2.3 billion modernization program for Hawaii airports over a 12-year period, with $1.7 billion budgeted for Honolulu International Airport.[18] The plan involves implementing short-term projects within the first five years to improve passenger service and increase security and operational efficiencies.[19]

As part of the modernization, flight display monitors throughout the airport have been upgraded, new food and beverage vendors have been added, and a new parking garage across from the International Arrivals terminal has been completed. Current projects include an international arrivals corridor with moving sidewalks built atop the breezeway leading to the Ewa Concourse. The first phase of the project was completed in October 2009, while the remainder of the two phase project was completed in 2010.[20]

In 2011, Hawaiian Airlines renovated the check-in lobby of the Interisland Terminal, replacing the traditional check-in counters with six circular check-in islands in the middle of the lobbies, which can be used for inter-island, mainland, and international flights. This renovation project was fully funded by Hawaiian Airlines and not a part of the modernization program.[21]

Future projects include construction of a Mauka Concourse branching off the Interisland Terminal, the first concourse expansion at HNL in 15 years. Construction of the concourse will involve replacing the existing Commuter Terminal.[22]

By 2012 Hawaiian Airlines was re-establishing Honolulu Airport as a connecting hub between the United States mainland and the Asia-Pacific region.[23] That year, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, the airport had 24% fewer domestic departure flights than it did in 2007.[24]


A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 with HNL's new control tower in the background

Honolulu International Airport is part of a centralized state structure governing all of the airports and seaports of Hawaiʻi. The official authority of Honolulu International Airport is the Governor of Hawaiʻi, who appoints the Director of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Transportation who has jurisdiction over the Hawaiʻi Airports Administrator.

The Hawaiʻi Airports Administrator oversees six governing bodies: Airports Operations Office, Airports Planning Office, Engineering Branch, Information Technology Office, Staff Services Office, Visitor Information Program Office. Collectively, the six bodies have authority over the four airport districts in Hawaiʻi: Hawaiʻi District, Kauaʻi District, Maui District and the principal Oʻahu District. Honolulu International Airport is a subordinate of the Oʻahu District officials.

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

The Reef Runway with Honolulu in the background

The airport has four major runways, which it shares with the adjacent Hickam Air Force Base. The principal runway designated 8R/26L, also known as the Reef Runway, was the world's first major runway constructed entirely offshore. Completed in 1977, the Reef Runway was a designated alternate landing site for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration space shuttle program in association with Hickam Air Force Base, which shares Honolulu International Airport's airfield operations.[25]

In addition to the four paved runways, Honolulu International Airport has two designated offshore runways designated 8W/26W and 4W/22W for use by seaplanes.

The entire terminal complex features twenty-four-hour medical services, restaurants, shopping centers and a business center with conference rooms for private use. Passengers have the option of using various short-term and long-term parking structures on the grounds of Honolulu International Airport.

For the 12-month period ending December 8, 2006, the airport had 323,726 aircraft operations, an average of 886 per day: 55% scheduled commercial, 26% general aviation, 15% air taxi and 5% military. There are 206 aircraft based at this airport: 48% single-engine, 27% multi-engine, 16% military, 6% helicopter and 3% jet.[3]

All Nippon Airways has its Honolulu Office in Airport Building 47.[26] When Mid-Pacific Airlines was in operations, its headquarters were on the airport property.[27]


Honolulu International Airport has three terminal buildings. A fleet of Chance RT-52 buses provide interterminal transportation between the ticket counters of all three terminals and between the concourses in the Interisland and Main terminals. These buses, known as "Wiki Wiki" buses (from the Hawaiian word for "quick"), are the namesake for the WikiWikiWeb, the first wiki.

The largest airline at Honolulu airport is Hawaiian Airlines offering 13,365 seats per day, which represents a 45% market share. The No. 2 and No. 3 carriers are United and Japan Airlines (JAL) with 7.7% and 7.4% market share respectively.

Main Terminal

Traffic between Honolulu and the mainland United States is dominated by flights to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco. These two cities, plus Seattle, account for around half of all flights between the mainland and Honolulu. Hawaiian Airlines, with 10 routes, has the highest market share on routes between Honolulu and the mainland.[28]

Internationally, Japan is the dominant market. Two-thirds of international seats are heading either for Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo (Haneda and Narita airports) with services provided by JALways/Japan Airlines, Air Japan, China Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian, or United. Narita alone is served with 61 weekly departures with Japanese carriers operating twice as many flights as US carriers.[28]

Other major international routes are to Seoul (25 weekly departures operated by Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines and Hawaiian), Sydney (12 weekly departures operated by Hawaiian, Jetstar and Qantas) and Vancouver (19 weekly departures spread between Air Canada and Westjet). In October 2009, China-based Hainan Airlines was granted approval for a nonstop flight from Honolulu to Beijing.[29] It would be the first mainland Chinese carrier to serve Hawaii and the airline's second US destination after Seattle. The airline originally planned to launch the service by the summer of 2010,[30] but the route has been further delayed due to visa concerns and landing fees.[31] China Eastern, however, announced that it will begin nonstop flights from Honolulu to Shanghai on August 9, 2011 instead, marking the first ever direct, regularly scheduled service between China and Hawaii.[32] On January 21, 2014, Air China launched the second China-Hawaii route with nonstop flights from Honolulu to Beijing, also the first nonstop route between the 2 cities.[33]

Commuter Terminal (Gates 62–80)[edit]

The Commuter Terminal serves smaller airlines which operate flights between both the smaller and major commercial airports in the island chain.

Boarding and deplaning is conducted directly on the tarmac, using an auxiliary incline ramp to avoid the air-stairs. Passengers who depart from the commuter terminal bound for another island, and are connecting to a flight bound for the U.S. mainland may not have baggage checked through to their final destination. The bags must be claimed at the next airport and be re-checked after completing pre-departure agriculture inspection formalities.

Interisland Terminal (Gates 49–61)[edit]

Inter-island terminal

The Interisland Terminal mainly serves the interisland and some US mainland flights and departing international flights (gate 54) of Hawaiian Airlines; most of Hawaiian's U.S. Mainland and International departures leave from Gates 15–34. It is designed to handle flights of jet aircraft between the major commercial airports in the Hawaiian Islands. The former Aloha Airlines and Mokulele Airlines Alii Lounge has been converted to a second Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Lounge near Gate 56.

On the ground level, Hawaiian Airlines uses Baggage Claim B for U.S. Mainland arrivals, and Baggage Claim C is used for interisland and U.S. Mainland arrivals. International arrivals on Hawaiian use the International Arrivals Baggage Claim located in the Main Terminal. Mokulele Airlines and Aloha Airlines formerly occupied Baggage Claim C.

Main Overseas Terminal (Gates 6–34)[edit]

Main overseas terminal's departure area

The Main Overseas Terminal serves U.S domestic and international destinations. All boarding gates in the Main Overseas Terminal at Honolulu International are common use, shared among all airlines, and may change daily as the need arises. No gates are assigned to any specific airline. The Main Overseas Terminal is divided into three concourses:

Airside at the Overseas Terminal

Gates 26–34 in addition to serving U.S. domestic flights can serve International flights and provide arrivals access directly into the International Arrivals Building to CBP screening via an enclosed secure corridor. Prior to this opening fully in early 2012 arriving international passengers had to board a Wiki Wiki bus to International arrivals.[34]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Air Canada RougeToronto-Pearson (begins December 10, 2014),[35] Vancouver4
Air ChinaBeijing-Capital8
Air New ZealandAuckland4
Alaska AirlinesAnchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland (OR), San Diego, San Jose (CA), Seattle/Tacoma5
All Nippon Airways
operated by Air Japan
Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita4
Allegiant AirLas Vegas, Los Angeles
Seasonal: Boise, Eugene, Fresno, Phoenix/Mesa, Spokane, Stockton
American AirlinesDallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles
Seasonal: Chicago-O'Hare
Asiana AirlinesSeoul-Incheon8
China AirlinesTaipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita4
China Eastern AirlinesShanghai-Pudong7
Delta Air LinesAtlanta, Fukuoka, Los Angeles, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Tokyo-Narita
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul (resumes October 25, 2015),[36] New York-JFK (begins December 18, 2014)[37]
Fiji AirwaysApia, Kiritimati, Nadi4
Hawaiian AirlinesHilo, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Lihue, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA),[38] Seattle/Tacoma2
Hawaiian AirlinesAuckland, Beijing-Capital, Brisbane, Osaka-Kansai, Pago Pago, Papeete, Sapporo-Chitose, Sendai, Seoul-Incheon, Sydney, Tokyo-Haneda3
Island AirKahului, Lanaʻi, Lihue1
Japan AirlinesNagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita5
Jetstar AirwaysBrisbane (begins December 15, 2014),[39] Melbourne, Sydney4
Korean AirSeoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita4
Mokulele AirlinesKahului, Kapalua, Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi1
ʻOhana by Hawaiian
operated by Empire Airlines
Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi3
Omni Air InternationalLas Vegas6
Philippine AirlinesManila4
United AirlinesChicago-O'Hare, Chuuk, Denver, Guam, Houston-Intercontinental, Kosrae, Kwajalein, Los Angeles, Majuro, Newark, Pohnpei, San Francisco, Tokyo-Narita, Washington-Dulles8
US AirwaysPhoenix6
Seasonal: Victoria
operated by Thomas Cook Airlines
Seasonal: Calgary4
Map of cities with direct international or domestic long-haul service to and from Honolulu International Airport.

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest international routes from HNL (October 2010 to August 2011)[40]
1Tokyo (Narita), Japan1,105,725ANA, China Airlines, Delta, JAL, United
2Seoul (Incheon), South Korea906,000Asiana, Hawaiian, Korean Air
3Taipei (Taoyuan), Taiwan759,000China Airlines
4Sydney, Australia405,000Hawaiian, Jetstar, Qantas
5Auckland, New Zealand325,000Air New Zealand
Busiest domestic routes from HNL (August 2013 - July 2014)[41]
1Los Angeles, California1,046,000Allegiant, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United
2Kahului, Hawaii1,026,000Hawaiian, Island, Mokulele
3Kona, Hawaii709,000Hawaiian
4Lihue, Hawaii681,000Hawaiian, Island
5Hilo, Hawaii560,000Hawaiian
6San Francisco, California490,000Delta, Hawaiian, United
7Seattle, Washington305,000Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian
8Las Vegas, Nevada257,000Allegiant, Hawaiian, Omni
9Phoenix, Arizona229,000Hawaiian, US Airways
10Portland, OR141,000Alaska, Hawaiian

Scheduled cargo services[edit]

Aloha Air CargoHilo, Kahului, Kona, Lihue, Los Angeles
Asia Pacific AirlinesGuam, Kiritimati, Kwajalein, Majuro, Pago Pago, Pohnpei
Corporate AirHoolehua, Kalaupapa, Kamuela, Kapalua, Lanai, Lihue
FedEx ExpressHilo, Los Angeles, Memphis, Oakland, Sydney
Kalitta AirHong Kong, Los Angeles
UPS AirlinesGuam International Airport, Hong Kong, Long Beach, Louisville, Kahului, Kona, Ontario, Sydney

Fixed-base operators[edit]

A number of fixed-base operators are located along Lagoon Drive on the airport's southeastern perimeter. While these focus on general aviation services, there are a few small passenger airline operations that operate from these facilities, rather than from the main terminal complex. Air tour flights typically depart from this area as well.

Makani Kai Air ChartersKalaupapa, Molokaʻi[42]Makani Kai
Te Mauri Travel operated by Maritime Air ChartersKiritimatiCastle & Cooke Aviation

Public transport[edit]

TheBus routes 19, 20, and 31 stop on the upper (departure) level of the airport. Routes 19 and 20 connect the airport to Pearlridge Center (20 only), Hickam AFB (19 only), Downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana Center, and Waikiki. Route 31 connects the airport to Tripler Army Medical Center, via Kalihi Transit Center. Routes 9, 40, 40A, 42, and 62 run on Nimitz Highway within walking distance of the airport.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

In popular media[edit]

The airport is featured in the two racing video games, Test Drive Unlimited and Test Drive Unlimited 2.

The airport has also been featured in several episodes of the Hawaii Five-0 (2010) television series, as well as in the 2006 film, Snakes on a Plane, and the 2014 film Godzilla. The latter was actually only featured in a single exterior shot as all scenes filmed at the "airport" were actually filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia


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External links[edit]