Preliminary Data: 6,441 Passengers Arriving Daily to Kahului, Maui
By Wendy Osher
The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation encourages people planning to fly to or from Hawaiʻi’s Airports to prepare for a busy summer travel season.
Statewide, preliminary visitor statistics show an average of 20,159 passengers arriving daily in Hawaiʻi so far in April, which is approximately 70 percent of pre-COVID numbers, according to data compiled by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism.
Here on Maui, April numbers are currently exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the same period (April 1-8) in 2018 and 2019. The DBEDT preliminary data shows that so far in April, there’s an average of 6,441 passengers arriving daily to Kahului Airport on domestic (including mainland and interisland) flights, up 7.2 percent (433 more passengers) from two years ago in 2019, and up 14 percent (793 more passengers) from three years ago in 2018.
Last month, Maui was still behind in daily arrivals, averaging 5,024 passengers daily on domestic flights, which was down 18.6 percent and 14.5 percent respectively from 2019 and 2018.
*The DBEDT data for April is updated daily and currently reflects the period from April 1-8. The DBEDT notes that dates in past years were adjusted to the closest comparable weekday of the current year. The public can track daily arrivals via the DBEDT Daily Passenger Count dashboard here.
The Big Island of Hawaiʻi is also showing an increase in travel so far in April. There’s an average of 2,649 passengers arriving daily on the Big Island. This is up 1.2 percent from 2019 and up 5 percent from 2018.
Travel to Kauaʻi is still down significantly from pre-pandemic levels. There’s an average of 644 passengers arriving daily to the Garden Isle so far in April, down 63.3 percent from 2019 and 69.2 percent from 2018.
And on Oʻahu, 10,154 passengers are arriving daily on domestic flights–that’s down 14.5 percent from 2019, and down 7.8 percent from 2018.
Airports Prepare for Increased Summer Travel
Given the current trends, HDOT recommends that departing travelers follow the tips from the Transportation Security Administration such as arriving more than two hours prior to departure and checking baggage to save time at security checkpoints.
HDOT is anticipating a significant increase in passenger numbers over the summer at Oʻahu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Kahului Airport on Maui, Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, Hilo International Airport on Hawaiʻi Island, and Līhuʻe Airport on Kauaʻi. Travelers are encouraged to plan and prepare if they will be making trips through these airports, especially during the peak times between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Secondary Testing on Maui Expected to Start Soon
Trans-Pacific travelers arriving on Maui, including returning Hawaiʻi residents and visitors from the US mainland will soon be required to undergo a secondary rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival. The program has been approved and is expected to be implemented before the end of the month. These travelers will be subject to a secondary rapid post test, even if they take the required pre-test 72 hours prior to departure of the final leg of their trip to Hawaiʻi, in an effort to bypass the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine. In addition to the pre-test and secondary rapid test, travelers to Maui must also download the AlohaSafe Alert App. Those who refuse to comply must quarantine for 10 days. If the secondary rapid test is positive, a followup PCR test will be conducted to confirm the result.
Travelers Should Visit HawaiiCovid19.com for the Latest Travel Guidance
All travelers should visit HawaiiCovid19.com before their trip for the latest travel guidance, including links to trusted travel and testing partners and information on what to expect during the post-arrival screening process at Hawaiʻi Airports. HDOT advises that use of an airline participating in the State of Hawaiʻi Pre-Departure Document Check program can expedite this process. Participants in PDDC will be processed before flying to Hawaiʻi. Airlines voluntarily participating in PDDC can validate Safe Travels approved COVID tests and Travel and Health Forms or assist travelers in completing quarantine paperwork. Once validated, a PDDC passenger can depart from the airport after deplaning subject to any requirements of the county. Travelers that do not participate in PDDC must undergo verification of their Safe Travel documentation at Hawaiʻi airports.
Travelers departing from the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport are reminded that they may use any of the available TSA checkpoints throughout HNL regardless of their airline or gate. If one checkpoint has a long line, it may be better to go to the next available checkpoint. A map of the nine TSA checkpoints at HNL is available at this link.
Mask Mandate Requires Use When in Public Regardless of Vaccine Status
All travelers should note that there is a statewide mask mandate requiring everyone age five and up to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when in public. The mask mandate applies regardless of an individual’s vaccination or COVID testing status. Travelers should also be prepared to wear a face covering onboard their flights and are encouraged to check with their air carrier for information on their COVID protocols.
Vaccine Passport Program Not Available Yet
Hawaiʻi could have a partial vaccine passport program available by summer, but state officials are weary of providing an exact date. On April 9, Gov. Ige singed a 19th emergency proclamation or COVID-19 that includes mention of an anticipated new exception for vaccinated travelers that will become effective only upon approval by the director of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency. This exception is not available as of today. The vaccine passport program is currently under prototype testing, and there is still no comprehensive database for verification purposes.
HDOT continues to offer hand sanitizing stations for use within airport terminals and encourages travelers to work together to create physical distance between themselves and others when possible.