Kona International Airport
|Kona International Airport at Keāhole|
|IATA: KOA – ICAO: PHKO – FAA LID: KOA
|Operator||Hawaii Department of Transportation|
|Elevation AMSL||47 ft / 14 m|
|Cargo (U.S. tons)||28,510|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration, Kona Airport|
Kona International Airport at Keāhole (IATA: KOA, ICAO: PHKO, FAA LID: KOA) is an airport on the Island of Hawaiʻi, in Kalaoa CDP, Hawaiʻi County, Hawaiʻi, United States. The airport serves leeward, or Western Hawaiʻi island, including the town of Kailua-Kona and the major resorts of the North Kona and South Kohala districts.
Much of the airport runway is built on a relatively recent lava flow: the 1801 Huʻehuʻe flow from Hualālai. This flow extended the shoreline out an estimated 1 mi (1.6 km), adding some 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi) of land to the island and creating Keāhole Point. The new airport was dedicated on July 1, 1970, with a single 6,500-foot (2.0 km) runway; the previous smaller airstrip was converted into the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area.
In its first full year, 515,378 passengers passed through the new open-air tropical-style terminals. The aquaculture ponds and solar energy experiments at the nearby Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) can be seen during landing and take-off.
In 1988 the runway was extended to 9,500 feet. Final runway extension to 11,000 feet occurred in 1994 to make it the largest in the Hawaiian Islands outside of Honolulu. It was renamed Keāhole-Kona International Airport in 1993. In 1997 it officially became known as the Kona International Airport at Keāhole.
Japan Airlines operated a Kona-Tokyo flight from 1996 to 2010, which was Hawaii Island's only scheduled international service outside of North America. Hawaiian Airlines, however, filed an application with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to begin nonstop flights from Kona to Tokyo's Haneda Airport restoring the link between the two cities after Japan Airlines withdrew service to Narita Airport in 2010. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) rejected the airline's application for the requested route despite many support from residents of west Hawaii.
Facilities and aircraft 
Kona International at Keahole Airport covers an area of 2,700 acres (1,100 ha) at an elevation of 47 feet (14 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 17/35 with an asphalt surface measuring 11,000 by 150 feet (3,353 x 46 m).
The state government of Hawaiʻi facility operates a runway and a terminal complex of single story buildings along the eastern edge of the airfield for arriving and departing passengers, air cargo and mail, airport support, and general aviation operations.
Kona International is the only remaining major airport in the Hawaiian Islands where a mobile ramp is used to plane and deplane passengers. Kona International sees daily 717, 737, 757, 767, and 777 aircraft, as well as smaller inter-island aircraft, and general private aviation. The airport terminal is a rambling, open-air set of structures. Kona is the only outdoor international airport. Long after other airports in Hawaiʻi converted their terminals to multi-story buildings with automated jetway systems, Hawaiian Airlines could still utilize their DC-9 fleet's tailcone exits at Kailua-Kona.
An environmental impact statement was prepared in 2005 to add a second runway. The United States Air Force investigated building a second 3,950 ft (1,200 m) runway in 2009. This would be used for practicing landing C-17 military cargo planes on a short runway. Although the 11,000 ft (3,353 m) runway allows flights to Japan and Chicago, it is the only major airport in Hawaii with a single runway.
For the 12-month period ending May 31, 2007, the airport had 150,624 aircraft operations, an average of 412 per day: 50% general aviation, 22% scheduled commercial, 15% air taxi, and 13% military. At that time there were 59 aircraft based at this airport: 68% single-engine, 14% multi-engine, 14% helicopter, 2% glider and 3% ultralight.
The airport is organized into two gate areas. Area "A" which houses gates 1-4 and area "B" which houses gates 5-10.
Airlines and destinations 
|Air Canada||Seasonal: Vancouver|
|Alaska Airlines||Oakland, San Jose (CA), Seattle/Tacoma
Seasonal: Anchorage, Portland (OR)
|American Airlines||Los Angeles|
|Delta Air Lines||Los Angeles|
|go! operated by Mesa Airlines||Honolulu, Kahului|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Honolulu, Kahului|
|Kona Shuttle operated by KaiserAir||Charter: Oakland|
|Pacific Wings||Kahului (ends June 15, 2013)|
|United Airlines||Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco|
Top destinations 
|1||Honolulu, HI||697,000||go!, Hawaiian|
|2||Los Angeles, CA||192,000||American, Delta, United|
|3||Kahului, HI||118,000||Hawaiian, Island Air, Mokulele, Pacific Wings, go!|
|4||San Francisco, CA||107,000||United|
|6||Phoenix, AZ||48,000||US Airways|
|7||San Jose, CA||45,000||Alaska|
Accidents and incidents 
- On August 25, 1977, an Air Cargo Hawaii twin-engine turbo-prop Short SC.7 Skyvan crashed and burned while attempting to land at Keahole Airport. The pilot and passenger were killed. The crash occurred about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) short of the runway.
- On September 10, 1989, the pilot of an Aero Commander 680 was making an emergency landing on runway 17 due to loss of power in the right engine. He crashed about 0.25 mi (0.4 km) southwest of the runway. One fatality and one serious injury.
Onizuka Space Center 
A small museum, the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center, is located between the passenger terminals at the airport. It is named in honor of Kona-born Ellison Onizuka who died in 1986 on the Space Shuttle Challenger. The displays include a sample of lunar soil, a space suit from Apollo 13, and personal items from Ellison Onizuka. An admission fee is charged.
Impact of Kona Airport on Hawaii Island 
Prior to the 1970 airport expansion, tourism was centered on Hawaii's East side and more specifically the town of Hilo. Tourists wanting to go to the Kona side of the Island typically flew into Hilo's airport and drove across the island. As recently as 1968 Kona Village Resort didn't have road access let alone a large airport nearby. This lack of infrastructure was not tolerable, particularly after the completion of the Royal Kona Resort in 1968.
When the airport opened in 1970, it helped accelerate a shift of tourism from East Hawaii to West Hawaii. Tourism in Hilo had already taken a hit when a tsunami destroyed all seaside hotels in 1960.
The full extent of the airport's impact and shift in tourism can be seen in Hawaii Island Strategic Plan for 2006 to 2015. By 2005, the percentage of accommodations on the West side increased to 86% of the total. In 2005 just 4 modest hotels continued to serve the East side of Hawaii, with 3 of them dating back to the 1960s
The success of the Kona International Airport in drawing tourism to the West side of Hawaii has been a mixed blessing. Tourism has also helped fuel Hawaii County's overall population growth. Between 1990 and 2010 the population increased 48%.
Future development 
Kona Airport's master plan, completed in 2010, calls for the addition of a second runway while keeping the option to extend the airport's primary runway to 12,000 feet if required. According to the master plan, the ultimate goal of having two runways would be to maximize the runways' airfield capability and ensure that a runway is always in service if one needs to be closed temporarily for emergencies, maintenance or construction. In addition, a second-level concourse with jetways would be built to better facilitate overseas (U.S. mainland and international) flights.
Work is in progress to combine the existing terminals into one space as well as adding a second story to the terminals complex. This second terminal will serve overseas and international passengers. When not in international use the new gates, accessed via jet bridge from the second story, will be used for interisland flights. The location of the second story will be on the west side of the current terminal locations, serving to physically connect the two terminals. In order for this to happen, the Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center will have to be relocated.
- FAA Airport Master Record for KOA ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective 29 July 2010.
- Kona Airport - Statistics
- "Kalaoa CDP, Hawaii." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 21, 2009.
- http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/1997/97_07_25.html Fishponds versus lava flows, USGS, 1997
- Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel Hoyt Elbert and Esther T. Mookini (2004). "lookup of keahole ". in Place Names of Hawai'i. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- John R. K. Clark (2004). "lookup of keahole ". in Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Kona Airport master plan official web site
- Last JAL Kona-to-Tokyo flight lands on Big Island
- "Air Force looks to add another runway at Kona airport" in West Hawaii Today, May 16, 2009
- "Alaska Airlines Announces New Hawaii And Mexico Flying; Horizon Air Adds San Jose-Los Angeles Service" (Press release). Alaska Airlines. 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- Segal, Dave (May 13, 2013). "Pacific Wings pulling out of Hawaii". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- Onizuka Space Center official web site
- Onizuka Space Center on Hawaii Museum Association web site
- Kona Village Resort on Fodor web site
- Royal Kona Resort History on Destination 360 web site
- The Great Hilo Tsunami on UC Davis web site
- Hawaii Island Strategic Plan for 2006 to 2015 County of Hawaii web site
- Hawaii Population Growth Kailua Kona US Census web site
- "KOA Airport Master Plan Update (Final), Chapter 5". http://www.kona-airport.com. October 2010. Retrieved 28 Jun 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kona International Airport|
- Hawaii DOT page for Kona International Airport at Keahole
- Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center
- (PDF), effective May 2, 2013
- FAA Terminal Procedures for KOA, effective May 2, 2013
- Resources for this airport: