Administrators plead case for cleaner airport restrooms

State DOT director Glenn Okimoto testifies at the Legislature today.
State DOT director Glenn Okimoto testifies at the Legislature today.
Kurt Abas
Kurt Abas
Ford Fuchigami
Ford Fuchigami
Dean Kadokawa
Dean Kadokawa

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Janitors at Honolulu International Airport play a game of constant catch up to meet demand for clean restrooms.

"You can imagine, if you use one of our public restrooms you know how dirty it gets," janitorial supervisor Kurt Abas said.

An airport bathroom's often the first stop when stepping off a long flight. It can leave a good or a bad impression.

"You want to make sure that visitors are happy with it. I don't like wet toilet seats," traveler Karen Mohr said.

But too often that's what happens.

"We got wet floors, wet sinks, hand towels all over the place. It gets bad," HNL land operations manager Dean Kadokawa said.

Out of 224 restrooms at Honolulu International, 120 are heavily used. Many are under-serviced because of a lack of manpower.

"Furlough Fridays has put a hamper on us to do our jobs. Where people can clean restrooms four or five times a day, now it's down to two," State Airports Division deputy director Ford Fuchigami said.

The 124 airport janitorial positions are down 70 from a decade ago. Fuchigami wants furloughed hours restored and 53 janitors hired.

The requests are in the Airports Division's $683 million budget proposal for the next two fiscal years.

Some travelers said they understand the janitors' plight but don't foresee an instant solution.

"We're all a little bit understaffed and we need to work together. I don't know where the money's going to come from," Big Island resident Eunice Plomaritis said.

Custodians said trying to keep up with restroom cleaning cuts into other chores, like sweeping and mopping floors and cleaning airport seats.

"We did ask our tenants to help us during this time of financial crisis. We asked them to call my custodial supervisors and report unclean restrooms. And we will react to it," Kadokawa said.

Abas said sometimes an uncleaned restroom is put out of service until a janitor can get to it.

When travelers have to go, that's not a welcome sign.

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