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With its tropical flowers and soothing tradewinds, the open-air design of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) invigorates plane-weary bodies and lifts spirits.
But it takes more than plumeria and fresh air to keep Hawaii’s largest airport competitive with others around the world, according to Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays.
“HNL has been in need of a facelift and modernization, as it has ranked low in the J.D. Power North America Airport Satisfaction studies for many years,” Richards said.
That’s why the Honolulu-based hub is amid a $2.7 billion overhaul, designed to please first-time visitors and frequent flyers alike.
The completion of the project, scheduled for late 2021, will result in an up-to-speed airport with lures such as a consolidated rental car facility, better food and shopping options, attractive restrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi access and sustainable initiatives — all of which will have a positive impact on Oahu’s status as a premier tourist destination, says Karishma Chowfin, director of travel industry sales for Oahu Visitors Bureau.
“Visitors can look forward to an enhanced arrival and departure experience,” Chowfin said. “The airport will be on a par with world-class international gateways.”
And the project will attract new airlines to the destination, which will increase tourism, Richards notes.
Here’s a snapshot of the main improvements at Oahu’s top transportation center, both now and in the next few years.
Consolidated Rental Car SiteExpected to open in early 2021, a one-stop rental car facility will help arriving clients hit the road as soon as possible. The five-story building is under construction to the east of the overseas terminal parking garage.
The facility will provide pickup and return locations for all rental car companies based at HNL. Clients will reach it via an integrated bus service running to and from various areas of the airport.
Expanded Mauka ConcourseThe growth of the Mauka wing is HNL’s first major concourse expansion in nearly 20 years. The goal is to address peak travel hours while making way for wide-body planes.
Set on two levels and connected to the interisland terminal, the L-shaped concourse promises six new aircraft gates, new security screening lanes, additional jet bridges and amenities such as concessions, restrooms and information kiosks. It’s slated for debut by the end of 2020.
Improved Restaurants, Shops and GardensInspired by the Hawaiian tradition of hookipa (hospitality), HNL now offers a more appetizing range of food and beverage options. A recently added 17,600 square feet of retail space touts everything from a gourmet marketplace to grab-and-go meals with local ingredients. New stores include Coach, Kate Spade and From Hawaii With Love.
HNL has also restored its Japanese and Chinese cultural gardens, which provide peaceful retreats for relaxing before or between flights.Restroom and Wi-Fi UpgradesCustomers spoke, and airport officials listened. The result is a renovation of HNL’s restrooms, which present a more contemporary look and feel. At least one of the remodeled men’s rooms even has a changing table for dads with little ones.
In late 2017, HNL launched free Wi-Fi access and charging stations, further enhancing the travel experience. Clients can get unlimited, complimentary, ad-sponsored service or buy a one-day or monthly subscription to Boingo Wireless for faster surfing speeds.
Sustainability EffortsAs a part of its modernization project, HNL has embarked on an admirable sustainability venture to protect the precious environment that makes Hawaii unique.
Green initiatives at the airport include installing solar panels on its parking garages; implementing energy-efficient lighting, ventilation and air-conditioning systems; and introducing environmentally friendly shuttles and buses.The DetailsDaniel K. Inouye International Airport Modernizationwww.hawaiiairportsmodernization.com