Local authorities in Hawaii have closed Kona International Airport on the Big Island and grounded all flights for the foreseeable future after cracks suddenly appeared on the runway.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation confirmed that it temporarily shut down the runway at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at around 4:20 pm on January 15 to assess cracks that had emerged following heavy rains.
Officials had initially hoped that it might be able to keep operating flights around the cracks but after assessing the usable length of the runway it was determined that the entire runway would have to remain closed until emergency repairs are carried out.
Around three and a half hours after first shuttering the airport, consultants called in by the government gave the bad news that the runway would have to remain closed overnight as it wouldn’t be possible to operate around the damaged part of the tarmac.
Contractors are now working throughout the night in an attempt to mill and resurface the damaged area of the runway with the hope of getting the airport back up and running before first light on Tuesday.
The Hawaiian government has had a project planned to reconstruct the entire length of the 11,000-foot runway later this year, but ‘runway pavement degradation’ had accelerated due to recent rains.
Hawaiian Airlines has put in place a travel waiver for all flights to and from Kona on January 15 and 16, giving passengers the option to reschedule their flights or cancel their ticket in exchange for travel credit.
The airline urged passengers not to even bother traveling to the airport on Monday night as it worked with local officials to determine when the airport will be back up and running.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.