The headline of a recent press release from the office of Hawaii's Governor Benjamin J. Cayento's reads "Governor Cayetano says proposed closure of five small airports will make system more efficient."
"Governor, I do not agree with that headline," AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a letter. "Closing airports, reducing airport capacity, shutting off a community from the benefits of air transportation, and limiting the number of airports available for general aviation pilots to land never makes the air transportation system more efficient."
According to the Hawaii Airports Division, the governor actually wants to find contract managers to manage Dillingham, Waimea-Kohala, Upolu, Kapalua, and Port Allen airports. Citing budget problems and the lack of revenue generated by those airports if contract management options cannot be found, the state will consider closing the airports.
"That could be a difficult and uphill battle," said Anne Espisito, AOPA's vice president of airports. "Some of those airports have accepted federal funding, which requires the state to keep the airports open."
The state plans to entertain bids until October 27 for persons interested in operating and maintaining the airports, after which a decision on the airports future will be made.
AOPA's position was summed up with Boyer's words to the governor: "Let's make certain these airports stay open."