21 January 2012

OGG's Runway Paving Dilemma

The FAA, state's Department of Transportation, and Maui County are mulling over options about repaving OGG's main runway, Runway 2/20. One of the three options include shutting down wide-body traffic for almost three months, while the other two call for the extension of the not-often used Runway 5/23 to accommodate mainland and inter-island traffic. A total repaving of the 70-year-old Runway 2/20 is needed as federal funding will no longer cover patch jobs currently done by the state.

Maui News coverage.

One item not covered in the article, is extending Runway 2/20, which would allow non-stop heavy jet flights to/from the midwest, east coast, and possibly Japan. Extending the north-south runway has been a decades-long debate, as a group have consistently protested that extending 2/20 will bring too many tourists to the "Valley Isle". As far back as the late 1980s, Japan Airlines wanted to fly directly to OGG from NRT, but the 7,000-foot Runway 2/20 would prohibit a direct return flight, therefore they chose to go to KOA. United's 777-200 return flight to ORD must stop at KOA for fuel.

Over the past several years, airlines have been expanding service to OGG. Having both runways extended (2/20 to 10,000 feet, and 5/23 to 7,000) with LAHSO (Land And Hold Short) operations will actually put less fatigue on Runway 2/20. The photo above shows OGG from the air, as the flight I was on circled around Haleakalā for its approach to Runway 2.

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