Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano
Hawaii State Capitol
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Governor Cayetano:
As president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) I represent the general aviation interests of more than 380,000 member pilots and aircraft owners. AOPA is the world's largest aviation association dedicated to the enhancement of general aviation and preserving general aviation airports nationwide.
It should come as no surprise that I was shocked to see the press release your office released on Wednesday, October 9, with the headline "Governor Cayetano says proposed closure of five small airports will make system more efficient."
Governor, I do not agree with that headline. 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.
The net effect of closing an airport is never beneficial. Airports in Hawaii serve many functions such as providing mail, cargo, and passenger service and many times are the best means of transportation to the islands. The five airports named in your press release, Dillingham, Waimea-Kohala, Upolu, Kapalua, and Port Allen are all listed in the National Plan of Integrated Airports (NPIAS) among the 3,344 airports that are recognized by Congress under Title 90 US Code § 47103 as being important to the national air transportation system. In fact, some of the airports mentioned have accepted federal funding and carry an obligation to the federal government to remain open.
The closure of these airports would have a negative effect on the islands' air transportation system and a severe effect on the economy of Hawaii. Airports and aviation are a strong part of Hawaii's economy and should be protected. The unique nature of the state as a chain of islands that cannot be connected by roads makes aviation an important asset that should not be destroyed.
I understand the state will be requesting proposals for the contract management of these airports to allow them to remain open. Please make certain these airports stay open. On behalf of our 380,000 members nationwide and 1,300 members in Hawaii, we encourage your support in preserving airports in Hawaii.
Cc: The Honorable Calvin Say, Hawaii House of Representatives
The Honorable Robert Bunda, Hawaii State Senate
October 10, 2002