With many travelers leaving West Maui amid the disastrous wildfires first reported on Aug. 8, the overflow of rental vehicles are piling up again around the Kahului Airport.
The scene is reminiscent of the COVID pandemic and its impact on tourism on the Valley Isle.
This time around, government leaders are choosing their words carefully to prevent unwanted economic impacts for the rest of the island and the state.
“Like we saw in the pandemic, decisions we made can affect everyone across the islands. So what we’re saying now is travel should not be to West Maui. But the other parts of Maui are safe,” said Governor Josh Green. “And the rest of the state, of course, is also safe.”
The Consolidated Rent-A-Car facility which accommodates the rental car companies operating out of Kahului Airport has 1.2 million square feet of space and sits on a 19 acre parcel. The building features a total of 4,436 parking stalls: 3,743 for car rentals; and 693 stalls on the upper level for airport staff/employee parking and space for overflow inventory, according to earlier estimates by the state Department of Transportation.
With the exodus of travelers, the ConRAC is proving once again to not be enough to accommodate the amount of vehicles no longer in use.
According to the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, domestic passenger counts have dropped on Maui since the wildfire disaster. Prior to Aug. 8, there were 6,000-7,500 domestic arrivals daily to the Valley Isle. The data shows that number had dropped to as low as 1,567 on Saturday, Aug. 12. In more recent days daily domestic arrivals have hovered above 2,000, according to data compiled by DBEDT.
Maui District Airports Manager Marvin Moniz tells Maui Now that a meeting was held to address the situation. “It looks like there are approximately 20,000 cars, and that said we have about 17,000 on airport property. Like COVID if the inventory sits around for a long time some of these cars will eventually be shipped out to other states. The car rental companies are monitoring the bookings and I’m sure decisions will be made in a few weeks or so,” said Moniz.
*This post was updated to include further details on future plans.