As the state Department of Transportation begins the process for an environmental impact statement for the overhaul or upgrade of the runways at the Kahului Airport, we would reiterate what we wrote last Jan. 26:
Clearly the best option for addressing the issue includes the lengthening of Kahului's second runway (5-23) so that in the end we have two runways capable of handling wide-body aircraft. The best option accomplishes this lengthening without shutting down the airport for weeks to wide-body planes.
There are three options being considered. The first is simply an overhaul to the main runway (2-20) that would require closing the airport to wide-body aircraft for an estimated eight to 10 weeks.
The second would lengthen runway 5-23 but require the airport be closed to wide-body landings for approximately three weeks.
The third and best option lengthens 5-23 and also adds 1,600 feet to 2-20 - and would not require any loss of wide-body operations.
In our view, the first option should not even be on the table. It is a patchwork solution that does not enhance the airport's capabilities.
Clearly the extension of 5-23 would allow for greater flexibility for landings and takeoffs in varying wind conditions.
We prefer option three because it would completely avert the economic loss that a shutdown to wide-bodies even for three weeks will cause. Also, the additional 1,600 feet on the existing 7,000-foot runway 2-20 would provide an even greater safety margin.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.