Airport gets $2 million facelift for APEC

An artist's rendition of potential improvements for the Honolulu International Airport
An artist's rendition of potential improvements for the Honolulu International Airport

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just like people spruce up their homes before company arrives, the Honolulu International Airport is doing the same thing spending $2 million to hide some of its flaws before thousands of APEC guests arrive this November.

In February we showed you leaks in the ceiling, stains on walls and plenty of broken equipment.  It turns out we aren't the only ones that noticed.

"They're just not where they need to be," said Lt. Governor Brian Schatz. "We're a major modern city in Honolulu. We're a modern state. We're the gold standard for hospitality and this is just not up to our standards right now and that's why we're going to fix it."

Thousands of international influential big wigs are coming to town for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings. APEC economies represent 55 percent of the world's gross domestic product, which means they have a lot of money.

"They shouldn't have to wait until they arrive at their hotel to realize that it's a beautiful place. Our airports should be beautiful too," said Lt. Governor Schatz. "The APEC meeting is no doubt the most important meeting that has ever occurred in the state of Hawaii. You're going to have 21 economies, 21 heads of state including President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton."

The airport has far too many issues to fix overnight so the state is focusing on the international arrivals area which makes sense because that's what the thousands of APEC visitors will see.  They'll replace the ripped canopies, fix the floors, and repair the lighting, even spruce up the walkways and add a rock garden.  And to be sure the travelers are greeted with aloha the state is also going to plant singers, dancers and hospitality services right outside international arrivals starting a few days before the APEC events.

"I think it's absolutely critical for Hawaii to get the whole thing right. It's a game changer. I think it gives us the best opportunity to put our best foot forward on a national and international scale." said Tim Johns, APEC 2011 Hawaii Host Committee Vice Chair.

They're not stopping at the airport.  State officials drove around town and picked out the areas in need of improvement and one road stuck out.

"Everybody sort of acknowledges that Nimitz Highway as a state highway is not the best part of Oahu from an aesthetics standpoint," said Lt. Governor Schatz.

They'll make Nimitz much nicer, along with Ala Moana Boulevard and the rest of the route to Waikiki.  Yes some of the work will be cosmetic but the hope is visitors will see Hawaii's beauty isn't just skin deep.

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