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Revenue bond issue to generate cash for airport improvements

United Airlines Kahului Airport Customer Service Director Naomi Aloy shows Morgan Suzuki which gate her flight leaves from Tuesday. The United check-in area recently underwent an extensive face-lift with termite-eaten wood counters replaced by white marble and stainless steel. Aloy said the update also included eight new self check-in kiosks, improved scales and many improvements behind the scenes, including renovations in the employee break room, locker rooms and bathrooms. “We’ve come a long way,” she said. “It’s a really new look. It’s to improve the customer experience.” The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

More airport lease lots, bigger gate hold-rooms and larger restrooms are scheduled for Kahului Airport through the sale of airport revenue bonds later this month.

The state Department of Transportation’s Airports Division will issue approximately $400 million in airport revenue bonds on Aug. 22 to fund capital projects at airports statewide, said Ross Higashi, deputy director of airports.

“We anticipate the amount raised in the bond sale will fund the capital needs of the Hawaii Airports System over the next two years,” he added.

Maui is set to receive $25 million in projects from the August bond issue. Two more bond series are scheduled for 2020 and 2021 for additional projects.

The projects through the bond sale are necessary to maintain, preserve and expand air service facilities through the state.

Kahului Airport’s departures terminal is busy Tuesday. More airport lease lots, bigger gate hold-rooms and larger restrooms are scheduled for the airport through the sale of airport revenue bonds later this month.

Because the Airports Division is self-sufficient and uses revenues collected from airlines and concessions to pay for both operating expenses and debt service, the division doesn’t rely on the state general fund. Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded the Airports Division’s credit rating from A+ to AA-.

One of the projects set to be funded by bond issues is more lease lots at Kahului Airport. This will create opportunities for aeronautical services, such as fueling, aircraft rental, maintenance and flight instruction, Higashi said.

When completed, the Kahului Airport lease lots would be near the intersection of Airport Access Road and Hana Highway, he added.

The Airports Division had a difficult time relocating tenants during previous runway and extension projects. The lack of lease lot spaces could lead to loss in revenue should tenants elect to move off airport property, Higashi said.

The estimated cost is $64 million and includes additional work to runway apron and taxiways. Work is estimated to start in 2020 with completion in 2022. The project still requires completion of environmental documentation.

Kahului Airport’s gate hold-rooms on the south end of the terminal are undersized because they were designed when the airport only had interisland aircraft that carried 110 passengers, Higashi said.

Now, the airport services larger aircraft with passenger capacities of 180 to 250.

The increased flight capacity sometimes results in passengers waiting in the walkways and other hold-rooms.

Estimated cost of hold-room improvements is $45 million. That includes work yet to be determined to increase capacity at the commuter terminal. Most of the $45 million will be used for commuter terminal work.

The estimated start date for the hold-room improvements is May, with estimated completion in April 2020. The commuter terminal work will take longer because the project requires completion of environmental documentation.

Kahului Airport restrooms at the south end of the terminal are small and congested at times because they also were designed for interisland aircraft crowds, Higashi added.

The restroom expansion is scheduled to begin in October with completion in September 2019. Estimated cost is $8 million.

The airport’s conference room and pass and identification office also will see improvements.

Currently, the conference room on the airport’s ground level only can accommodate about 12 people, Higashi said. The new conference room will be able to hold 40 people.

To accommodate the growth of the conference room, the attached pass and ID office will be relocated north of the baggage claim area. More passes will be able to be processed with a new office, officials said.

Other projects funded through bond sales include inbound baggage handling system improvements, installation of new sewage lift pump station, land acquisition, replacement of elevators and escalators, roof replacement and an upgrade of passenger information systems.

At the Lanai Airport, improvements include repaving the airport access road and the main parking lot and restroom improvements.

At the Molokai Airport, upgrades include reconstruction of the airport’s runway and taxiway, drainage work, re-striping and repair and replacement of lighting and signage, air rescue and firefighting station improvements and culvert improvements.

The Kapalua Airport will see water tank improvements.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.