BY MICHELLE VAN HESSEN – State Representative Bob McDermott called on Governor Ige to reverse a short sighted money grab instituted by the outgoing Abercrombie administration in the waning days of his term.
McDermott said, “Gov. Ige seems like a reasonable man; surely he will see a 439% percent increase in rents – overnight – is unreasonable and foolish. General aviation is a clean and technologically advanced industry and everyone from airplane mechanics and hangar janitors depends on these pilots to keep flying. This Abercrombie policy will kill the industry to the parts suppliers overnight and make it truly accessible for only the super-rich. I ask Gov. Ige to restore common sense and reverse this Abercrombie money grab.”
In 1999, Kalaeloa was obtained from the US Navy and designated as the general aviation reliever airport for Honolulu International. The mix of large and small aircraft operations at the Honolulu airport has been identified as a safety hazard for many years. In 1998, the Department of Transportation Airports, (DOT-A) estimated that by 2020, nearly 200 aircraft would be based at Kalaeloa. This same estimate predicted that 60% of the small and light twin aircraft based at Honolulu would move to Kalaeloa by 2020. To illustrate how poorly DOT-A has accommodated general aviation, at the end of 2014, nearly 75% of the time has elapsed towards that 2020 goal and the general aviation based at Kalaeloa is at about 10% of the estimate. The crowding of Honolulu International only gets worse with no reasonable solution in sight. Aircraft formerly based at Kalaeloa have actually moved to Honolulu because of lack of support from DOT-A.
Hangar space at Kalaeloa is limited and any prospective hangar builder is faced with insurmountable hurdles and obstacles. In the time that DOT-A has managed Kalaeloa, only four private hangars have been built with many prospective tenants having given up at the thought of building and others moving away from the state – entirely because of DOT-A’s unreasonableness.
DOT-A has provided no incentive for general aviation aircraft to move to Kalaeloa.
There is a complete lack of transparent objective guidance for construction of private general aviation hangars at Kalaeloa. Current and prospective tenants have had to deal with an unreasonable and often times hostile staff at DOT-A. Current and prospective tenants have attempted to negotiate in good faith and as good neighbors in developing reasonable guidance and standards for private hangar construction. The end result would have been a safer Honolulu International due to less small aircraft traffic and a growing general aviation community that contributes to the local economy. These efforts have been met with resistance and one road block after another. It’s readily apparent that DOT-A views general aviation as burdensome and as an unwanted activity in the State of Hawaii.
To further compound the Kalaeloa hangar issues, as a result of DOT-A having had a statewide airport property assessment done, current and prospective tenants at Kalaeloa are faced with outrageous lease rates increases. For current tenants, this lease increase could be as high as 439%. A property tax rate increase several years ago resulted in a nearly 10% increase of rental rates. Again, it must be stressed that this at an airport where the current lease rate has only attracted four private hangars. This outrageous lease increase may very well put an end to general aviation at Kalaeloa.
Since 1999, federal funding at Kalaeloa has been in excess of $35,000,000. The FAA recently ruled in favor of a local aviation company due to the non-responsiveness of DOT-A. Federal funding for all Hawaii airports may be at risk because of this complaint and will continue to be at risk should DOT-A continue their uncooperative attitude towards private general aviation.