LIHUE >> The district manager for Kauai Airports is hoping to secure enough state funding to support major upgrades at Lihue Airport.
Dennis Neves said the goal is to make the airport “just like any other airport” in the country, The Garden Island reported.
“What I’m trying to develop is an airport where everything’s processed behind the scenes, and make it look like a real airport,” Neves said.
Gov. David Ige released an executive supplemental budget proposal Dec. 21 for the 2016 legislative session. The proposal would increase the overall fiscal 2015-17 budget to $30.7 billion, with $9.2 million going toward reconstructing Lihue Airport’s check-in area and holding area to accommodate increasing flights.
The project is expected to take about five years to complete.
The proposed improvements to the airport have drawn criticism from those who say the $9.2 million could be used to address more pressing matters on Kauai.
“I’m not the governor, but I do feel he should reach out to us, the residents of Kauai, for input on a higher level, because I don’t feel like the airport improvements are necessary right now, as a lifetime resident of Kauai,” said County Councilman Ross Kagawa, who suggested the money be used to address Kauai’s traffic problem.
However, Neves said the supplemental budget money is needed to help the airport support the growing number of passengers it has seen it recent years. He said things have changed since the airport first started operating and only served two airline companies, Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.
“Today we have six and five of them provide trans-Pacific flights to the Mainland, and Hawaiian goes to Canada,” Neves said. “All of them are carrying at least 120, maybe 230 passengers per airplane. That’s quite a significant increase in a 10- or 15-year period.”