Honolulu International Airport

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For the United States Air Force use of this facility, see Hickam Air Force Base.
Honolulu International Airport
WMO: 91182
Airport type Public / Military
Owner State of Hawaii
Operator Department of Transportation
Serves Honolulu, Island of O'ahu
Location Honolulu, Hawaii, US
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates 21°19′07″N 157°55′21″W / 21.31861°N 157.92250°W / 21.31861; -157.92250Coordinates: 21°19′07″N 157°55′21″W / 21.31861°N 157.92250°W / 21.31861; -157.92250
Website hawaii.gov/hnl
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4L/22R 6,952 2,119 Asphalt
4R/22L 9,000 2,743 Asphalt
4W/22W 3,000 914 Water
8L/26R 12,300 3,749 Asphalt
8R/26L 12,000 3,658 Asphalt
8W/26W 5,000 1,524 Water
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations 278,145
Total passengers 19,291,412
Total cargo (metric tonnes) 412,270
Sources: ACI[1]

Honolulu International Airport (IATA: HNLICAO: PHNLFAA LID: HNL) is the principal aviation gateway of the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii and is identified as one of the busiest airports in the United States, with traffic now exceeding 21 million passengers a year and rising.[2]

It is located in the Honolulu census-designated place three miles (5 km) northwest of Oahu's central business district.[3][4] Main roads leading to the airport are Nimitz Highway and the Queen Liliuokalani Freeway of Interstate H-1.

Honolulu International Airport serves as the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines, the largest Hawaii-based airline. Hawaiian offers flights between the various airports of the Hawaiian Islands and also serves the continental United States, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tahiti, Japan, and South Korea. It is host to major United States and international airlines, with direct flights to American, Asian, and Pacific Rim destinations. In addition to services to most major western cities and many smaller gateways, especially in California, the airport has succeeded in attracting long-haul services to the East Coast including the recently added destinations of Toronto-Pearson and Washington-Dulles, which have joined established services to Atlanta, New York-JFK and Newark.

It is also the base for Aloha Air Cargo, which previously offered both passenger and cargo services under the name Aloha Airlines. This airline ceased passenger flights on March 31, 2008 and sold off its cargo services to Seattle-based Saltchuk Resources, Inc (also owners of inter-island sea-based shipping company Young Brothers and Hawaiian Tug & Barge.)

In 2012, the airport handled 19,291,412 passengers, 278,145 aircraft movements and processed 412,270 metric tonnes of cargo.[1]

Tourists wanting to get from the Honolulu International Airport to their hotel in Waikiki can use public transportation (The Bus), taxi cab, airport shuttle or rental car.[5]


HNL opened in March 1927 as John Rodgers Airport, named after World War I naval officer John Rodgers.[6] It was funded by the territorial legislature and the Chamber of Commerce, and was the first full airport in Hawaii: aircraft had previously been limited to small landing strips, fields or seaplane docks. From 1939 to 1943, the adjacent Keehi Lagoon was dredged for use by seaplanes, and the dredged soil was moved to HNL to provide more space for conventional airplanes.[citation needed]

The U.S. military grounded all civil aircraft and took over all civil airports after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Rodgers Field was designated Naval Air Station Honolulu. The Navy built a control tower and terminal building, and some commercial traffic was allowed during daylight hours. Rodgers Field was returned to the Territory of Hawaii in 1946. At the time, at 4,019 acres (16.26 km2), it was one of the largest airports in the United States, with four paved land runways and three seaplane runways.[6]

John Rodgers Airport was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947; "International" was added to the name in 1951.[6] Being near the center of the Pacific Ocean it was a stop for many transpacific flights. By 1950 it was the third-busiest airport in the United States in terms of aircraft operations, and its 13,097-foot (3,992 m) runway was the longest in the world in 1953.[6] In summer 1959 Qantas began the first jet service to Honolulu on its flights between Australia and California.[7] Aeronautical engineer and airline consultant, Frank Der Yuen, advised in the design of the original building and founded its aerospace museum.[8]

The original terminal building on the southeast side of runways 4 was replaced by the John Rodgers Terminal, which was dedicated on August 22, 1962 and opened on October 14, 1962.[6] From 1970 through 1978, the architect Vladimir Ossipoff designed a terminal modernization project that remodeled this terminal and created several additions,[9][10] which included the Diamond Head Concourse in 1970, the Ewa Concourse in 1972, and the Central Concourse in 1980.[11]

Pan Am used Honolulu as a transpacific hub for many years, initially as a connecting point between the West Coast and Polynesia (Fiji, New Caledonia and New Zealand) in 1946,[12] followed by service to East Asia through Midway Island and Wake Island from 1947.[13] By the mid-1970s Pan Am offered nonstop service from Honolulu to Japan, Guam, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, as well as to cities on the West Coast.[14] Continental Airlines used Honolulu as a stopover point for charter service to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War era, and to feed its Guam-based Air Micronesia operation.[15] American Airlines also operated flights to Australia and the South Pacific through Honolulu from 1970 to 1975.[16] Many foreign carriers used Honolulu as a transpacific stopover point, including Air New Zealand, China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.[17]

Modernization and history since 2006[edit]

On March 24, 2006 Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle unveiled a $2.3 billion modernization program for Hawaii airports over a 12-year period, with $1.7 billion budgeted for Honolulu International Airport.[18] The plan involves implementing short-term projects within the first five years to improve passenger service and increase security and operational efficiencies.[19]

As part of the modernization, flight display monitors throughout the airport have been upgraded, new food and beverage vendors have been added, and a new parking garage across from the International Arrivals terminal has been completed. Current projects include an international arrivals corridor with moving sidewalks built atop the breezeway leading to the Ewa Concourse. The first phase of the project was completed in October 2009, while the remainder of the two phase project was completed in 2010.[20]

In 2011, Hawaiian Airlines renovated the check-in lobby of the Interisland Terminal, replacing the traditional check-in counters with six circular check-in islands in the middle of the lobbies, which can be used for inter-island, mainland, and international flights. This renovation project was fully funded by Hawaiian Airlines and not a part of the modernization program.[21]

Future projects include construction of a Mauka Concourse branching off the Interisland Terminal, the first concourse expansion at HNL in 15 years. Construction of the concourse will involve replacing the existing Commuter Terminal.[22]

By 2012 Hawaiian Airlines was re-establishing Honolulu Airport as a connecting hub between the United States mainland and the Asia-Pacific region.[23] That year, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, the airport had 24% fewer domestic departure flights than it did in 2007.[24]


A Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 with HNL's new control tower in the background

Honolulu International Airport is part of a centralized state structure governing all of the airports and seaports of Hawaiʻi. The official authority of Honolulu International Airport is the Governor of Hawaiʻi, who appoints the Director of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Transportation who has jurisdiction over the Hawaiʻi Airports Administrator.

The Hawaiʻi Airports Administrator oversees six governing bodies: Airports Operations Office, Airports Planning Office, Engineering Branch, Information Technology Office, Staff Services Office, Visitor Information Program Office. Collectively, the six bodies have authority over the four airport districts in Hawaiʻi: Hawaiʻi District, Kauaʻi District, Maui District and the principal Oʻahu District. Honolulu International Airport is a subordinate of the Oʻahu District officials.

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

The Reef Runway with Honolulu in the background

The airport has four major runways, which it operates in conjunction with the adjacent Hickam Air Force Base.[25] The principal runway designated 8R/26L, also known as the Reef Runway, was the world's first major runway constructed entirely offshore. Completed in 1977, the Reef Runway was a designated alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.

In addition to the four paved runways, Honolulu International Airport has two designated offshore runways designated 8W/26W and 4W/22W for use by seaplanes.

The entire terminal complex features twenty-four-hour medical services, restaurants, shopping centers and a business center with conference rooms for private use. Passengers have the option of using various short-term and long-term parking structures on the grounds of Honolulu International Airport.

For the 12-month period ending January 30, 2014, the airport had 286,897 aircraft operations, an average of 786 per day. Of these movements 53% were scheduled commercial, 25% air taxi, 16% general aviation and 5% military. There are 217 aircraft based at this airport: 51% single-engine, 21% multi-engine, 15% military, 9% helicopter and 3% jet. [26]

All Nippon Airways has its Honolulu Office in Airport Building 47.[27] When Mid-Pacific Airlines was in operations, its headquarters were on the airport property.[28]


Honolulu International Airport has three terminal buildings. A fleet of Chance RT-52 buses provide interterminal transportation between the ticket counters of all three terminals and between the concourses in the Interisland and Main terminals. These buses, known as "Wiki Wiki" buses (from the Hawaiian word for "quick"), are the namesake for the WikiWikiWeb, the first wiki.

Main Terminal

Commuter Terminal (Gates 62–80)[edit]

The Commuter Terminal serves smaller airlines which operate flights between both the smaller and major commercial airports in the island chain.

Boarding and deplaning is conducted directly on the tarmac, using an auxiliary incline ramp to avoid the air-stairs. Passengers who depart from the commuter terminal bound for another island, and are connecting to a flight bound for the U.S. mainland may not have baggage checked through to their final destination. The bags must be claimed at the next airport and be re-checked after completing pre-departure agriculture inspection formalities.

Interisland Terminal (Gates 49–61)[edit]

Inter-island terminal

The Interisland Terminal mainly serves the interisland and some US mainland flights and departing international flights (gate 54) of Hawaiian Airlines; most of Hawaiian's U.S. Mainland and International departures leave from Gates 15–34. It is designed to handle flights of jet aircraft between the major commercial airports in the Hawaiian Islands. The former Aloha Airlines and Mokulele Airlines Alii Lounge has been converted to a second Hawaiian Airlines Premier Club Lounge near Gate 56.

On the ground level, Hawaiian Airlines uses Baggage Claim B for U.S. Mainland arrivals, and Baggage Claim C is used for interisland and U.S. Mainland arrivals. International arrivals on Hawaiian use the International Arrivals Baggage Claim located in the Main Terminal. Mokulele Airlines and Aloha Airlines formerly occupied Baggage Claim C.

Main Overseas Terminal (Gates 6–34)[edit]

Main overseas terminal's departure area

The Main Overseas Terminal serves U.S domestic and international destinations. All boarding gates in the Main Overseas Terminal at Honolulu International are common use, shared among all airlines, and may change daily as the need arises. No gates are assigned to any specific airline. The Main Overseas Terminal is divided into three concourses:

  • Diamond Head Concourse contains gates 6–11
  • Central Concourse contains gates 12–25
  • Ewa Concourse contains gates 26–34
Airside at the Overseas Terminal

Gates 26–34 in addition to serving U.S. domestic flights can serve International flights and provide arrivals access directly into the International Arrivals Building to CBP screening via an enclosed secure corridor. Prior to this opening fully in early 2012 arriving international passengers had to board a Wiki Wiki bus to International arrivals.[29]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Lobby
Air Canada Rouge Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver 4
Air China Beijing-Capital 8
Air New Zealand Auckland 4
Alaska Airlines Anchorage, Oakland, Portland (OR), San Diego, San Jose (CA), Seattle/Tacoma
Seasonal: Bellingham
All Nippon Airways
operated by Air Japan
Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita 4
Allegiant Air Las Vegas, Los Angeles 6
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles 7
Asiana Airlines Seoul-Incheon 8
China Airlines Taipei-Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita 4
China Eastern Airlines Shanghai-Pudong 7
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Fukuoka, Los Angeles, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Tokyo-Narita
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK,[30] Portland (OR) (resumes December 19, 2015),[31]
Fiji Airways Apia, Kiritimati, Nadi 4
Hawaiian Airlines Hilo, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Lihue, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA),[32] Seattle/Tacoma 2
Hawaiian Airlines Auckland, Beijing-Capital, Brisbane, Osaka-Kansai, Pago Pago, Papeete, Sapporo-Chitose, Sendai, Seoul-Incheon, Sydney, Tokyo-Haneda 3
Island Air Kahului, Lanaʻi, Lihue 1
Japan Airlines Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Kansai, Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita 5
Jetstar Airways Brisbane[33] Melbourne, Sydney 4
Korean Air Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita 4
Mokulele Airlines Kahului, Kapalua, Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi 1
ʻOhana by Hawaiian
operated by Empire Airlines
Lanaʻi, Molokaʻi 3
Omni Air International Las Vegas 6
Philippine Airlines Manila 4
Qantas Sydney 4
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Chuuk, Denver, Guam, Houston-Intercontinental, Kosrae, Kwajalein, Los Angeles, Majuro, Newark, Pohnpei, San Francisco, Tokyo-Narita, Washington-Dulles 8
US Airways Phoenix 6
WestJet Vancouver
Seasonal: Victoria
operated by Thomas Cook Airlines
Seasonal: Calgary 4
Map of cities with direct international or domestic long-haul service to and from Honolulu International Airport. Red represents the Domestic Destinations, while Blue shows the International Destinations.


Airlines Destinations
Aloha Air Cargo Hilo, Kahului, Kona, Lihue, Los Angeles
Asia Pacific Airlines Guam, Kiritimati, Kwajalein, Majuro, Pago Pago, Pohnpei
Corporate Air Hoolehua, Kalaupapa, Kamuela, Kapalua, Lanai, Lihue
FedEx Express Hilo, Los Angeles, Memphis, Oakland, Sydney
Kalitta Air Hong Kong, Los Angeles
UPS Airlines Guam, Hong Kong, Long Beach, Louisville, Kahului, Kona, Ontario, San Diego, Sydney

Fixed-base operators[edit]

A number of fixed-base operators are located along Lagoon Drive on the airport's southeastern perimeter. While these focus on general aviation services, there are a few small passenger airline operations that operate from these facilities, rather than from the main terminal complex. Air tour flights typically depart from this area as well.

Airlines Destinations FBO
Makani Kai Air Charters Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi[34] Makani Kai
Te Mauri Travel operated by Maritime Air Charters Kiritimati Castle & Cooke Aviation

Traffic and Statistics[edit]

The largest airline at Honolulu airport is Hawaiian Airlines offering 13,365 seats per day, which represents a 45% market share. The No. 2 and No. 3 carriers are United and Japan Airlines (JAL) with 7.7% and 7.4% market share respectively.

Traffic between Honolulu and the mainland United States is dominated by flights to and from Los Angeles and San Francisco. These two cities, plus Seattle, account for around half of all flights between the mainland and Honolulu. Hawaiian Airlines, with 11 routes, has the highest market share on routes between Honolulu and the continental United States.[35][36]

Internationally, Japan is the dominant market. Two-thirds of international seats are heading either for Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo (Haneda and Narita airports) with services provided by Japan Airlines, Air Japan, China Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian, or United. Narita alone is served with 61 weekly departures and is the second busiest international route from the United States trailing only the lucrative John F. Kennedy Airport-London Heathrow route.[35] [37]

Other major international routes are to Seoul (25 weekly departures operated by Korean Airlines, Asiana Airlines and Hawaiian), Sydney (12 weekly departures operated by Hawaiian, Jetstar and Qantas) and Vancouver (19 weekly departures spread between Air Canada and Westjet).

In October 2009, China-based Hainan Airlines was granted approval for a nonstop flight from Honolulu to Beijing.[38] It would be the first mainland Chinese carrier to serve Hawaii and the airline's second US destination after Seattle. The airline originally planned to launch the service by the summer of 2010,[39] but the route has been further delayed due to visa concerns and landing fees.[40] China Eastern, however, announced that it will begin nonstop flights from Honolulu to Shanghai on August 9, 2011 instead, marking the first ever direct, regularly scheduled service between China and Hawaii.[41] On January 21, 2014, Air China launched the second China-Hawaii route with nonstop flights from Honolulu to Beijing, also the first nonstop route between the 2 cities.[42]

Las Vegas based Allegiant Air used to offer once-weekly non-stop service to many smaller markets in the mainland Western United States. These cities included Bellingham, Boise, Eugene, Fresno, Spokane, and Stockton. Allegiant still offers service to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. [43]

Top domestic destinations[edit]

Busiest Domestic Routes from HNL (Dec 2013 - Nov 2014)[44]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Los Angeles, California 1,092,000 Allegiant, American, Delta, Hawaiian, United
2 Kahului, Hawaii 976,000 Hawaiian, Island, Mokulele
3 Kona, Hawaii 682,000 Hawaiian
4 Lihue, Hawaii 625,000 Hawaiian, Island
5 Hilo, Hawaii 541,000 Hawaiian
6 San Francisco, California 465,000 Delta, Hawaiian, United
7 Seattle, Washington 301,000 Alaska, Delta, Hawaiian
8 Las Vegas, Nevada 262,000 Allegiant, Hawaiian, Omni
9 Phoenix, Arizona 228,000 Hawaiian, US Airways
10 Portland, Oregon 149,000 Alaska, Hawaiian

Top international destinations[edit]

Busiest International Routes from HNL (2013)[45]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Tokyo (Narita), Japan 1,550,208 ANA, China Airlines, Delta, JAL, United
2 Osaka (Kansai), Japan 527,986 Delta, Hawaiian, JAL
3 Tokyo (Haneda), Japan 503,763 ANA, Hawaiian, JAL
4 Sydney, Australia 409,928 Hawaiian, Jetstar, Qantas
5 Seoul (Incheon), South Korea 405,637 Hawaiian, Korean
6 Nagoya, Japan 269,932 Delta, JAL
7 Vancouver, Canada 257,320 Air Canada, WestJet
8 Fukuoka, Japan 212,176 Delta, Hawaiian
9 Manila, Philippines 128,019 Hawaiian, Philippine
10 Auckland, New Zealand 114,072 Air New Zealand, Hawaiian

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Honolulu Airport, 1931 thru 2013[46][47][48]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 18,443,873 2000 23,027,674 1990 23,367,770 1980 15,155,337 1970 7,234,594 1960 1,609,303 1950 516,961 1940 28,624
2009 18,171,937 1999 22,560,399 1989 22,617,340 1979 15,506,169 1969 5,538,271 1959 1,069,523 1949 467,397 1939 21,861
2008 18,809,103 1998 22,636,354 1988 21,577,541 1978 14,703,764 1968 4,632,216 1958 981,022 1948 469,849 1938 28,611
2007 21,517,476 1997 23,880,346 1987 20,380,042 1977 12,922,895 1967 4,363,672 1957 950,883 1947 471,944
2006 20,266,686 1996 24,326,737 1986 19,076,395 1976 12,182,519 1966 3,534,450 1956 881,814 1946 272,513
2005 20,179,634 1995 23,672,894 1985 17,497,204 1975 11,306,443 1965 3,019,789 1955 775,441 1945 170,437
2004 19,334,674 1994 22,995,976 1984 17,287,620 1974 10,639,503 1964 2,556,330 1954 720,033 1944 110,242
2013 19,776,751 2003 18,690,888 1993 22,061,953 1983 16,035,463 1973 10,109,483 1963 2,225,568 1953 684,559 1943 107,945
2012 19,291,412 2002 19,749,902 1992 22,608,188 1982 16,493,587 1972 8,704,003 1962 1,911,060 1952 661,189 1942 82,397
2011 17,991,497 2001 20,151,935 1991 22,224,594 1981 15,376,489 1971 7,604,992 1961 1,723,979 1951 582,281 1941 37,099 1931 12,206

Public transport[edit]

TheBus routes 19, 20, and 31 stop on the upper (departure) level of the airport. Routes 19 and 20 connect the airport to Pearlridge Center (20 only), Hickam AFB (19 only), Downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana Center, and Waikiki. Route 31 connects the airport to Tripler Army Medical Center, via Kalihi Transit Center. Routes 9, 40, 40A, 42, and 62 run on Nimitz Highway within walking distance of the airport.

When Honolulu Rail Transit phase II opens in 2019, there will be a station at the airport connecting it to Downtown Honolulu and points west of the airport.[49]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • Pan Am Flight 830: a bomb exploded aboard as the aircraft prepared for approach to Honolulu International Airport from Tokyo on August 11, 1982. One teenager was killed and 15 others were injured. The aircraft did not disintegrate, and made a safe emergency landing in Honolulu.
  • Aloha Airlines Flight 243: flying from Hilo to Honolulu International Airport on April 28, 1988, experienced a rapid decompression. An 18-foot-long (5.5 m) section of the fuselage roof and sides were torn from the airplane, due to metal fatigue. Out of the 89 passengers and 6 crew members, the only fatality was a flight attendant blown out of the airplane. Several passengers sustained life-threatening injuries. The aircraft diverted to Kahului Airport.
  • United Airlines Flight 811: a Boeing 747 carrying 3 flight crew, 15 cabin crew and 337 passengers from Honolulu to Auckland on February 24, 1989, suffered rapid decompression when a cargo door separated from the aircraft after takeoff from the Reef Runway. Nine passengers were swept from the aircraft. The plane returned to Honolulu.
  • Bojinka plot: a plot discovered by US and Filipino intelligence authorities after a fire in a Manila apartment, included in its first phase the planned detonation of bombs aboard several flights inbound to, or outbound from, Honolulu on January 21, 1995. The Bojinka plot later developed into the September 11 attacks.

In popular media[edit]

The airport is featured in the two racing video games, Test Drive Unlimited and Test Drive Unlimited 2.

The airport has also been featured in several episodes of the Hawaii Five-0 (2010) television series, as well as in the 2006 film, Snakes on a Plane, and the 2014 film Godzilla. The latter was actually only featured in a single exterior shot as all scenes filmed at the "airport" were actually filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia


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External links[edit]