A major expansion of the Big Island’s Kona airport is underway.
Airport officials and state dignitaries broke ground on Wednesday for the $75 million project at the newly renamed Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, West Hawaii Today reported.
Gov. David Ige called the project critical for the airport.
“It will improve passenger experience for non-residents and residents alike,” Ige said, adding that investing in quality infrastructure can make a difference to the Hawaii community.
Improvements at the airport include creating a centralized security area, six-lane passenger screening checkpoint, new restrooms and an improved baggage handling system.
The airport was first built in the 1970s to handle about 500,000 travelers a year. It now sees 3 million people heading through its gates annually.
“I’m very hopeful in the modernization that it represents the local feeling here,” Rep. Cindy Evans said. “This project is going to take a lot of effort. It’s been a long time coming — it’s what we want.”
The improvements are part of a $2.7 billion state project to improve facilities at airports statewide. Updates at the Kona airport are slated to be complete in February 2019.