Residents say Honolulu Airport maintenance issues a concern - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Residents say Honolulu Airport maintenance issues a concern

Out of Order signs in an airport restroom Out of Order signs in an airport restroom
Hand dryer in men's restroom at airport Hand dryer in men's restroom at airport
Honolulu International Airport Honolulu International Airport
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Broken equipment and maintenance problems at Honolulu International Airport are irking some residents and visitors.

Travelers shared photos with Hawaii News Now that show "out of order" toilets and other problems.

One woman wondered why an “out of order” restroom at the inter-island terminal still wasn't functioning Tuesday, when she took the first photo of the inaccessible restroom August 18. 

Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said tens of thousands of travelers move in and out of Honolulu International Airport on any given day, so keeping up with repairs is a big job.

"Public health and safety is of the utmost importance to the HDOT and we are striving to provide the highest quality experience for our airport users," Sakahara said, in an email.

He said there were currently no bathrooms that were shut down completely, but said the facilities do take a beating, suffering damage ranging from clogged toilets to vandalism.

"These damages result in fewer available fixtures to use and may result in leaks and spills," he said. "Our plumbing and maintenance work includes hiring a contractor to clean out the waste piping, replacement of affected fixtures, additional custodial cleaning efforts, etc. This added work may take away time to perform other needed maintenance."

There are 92 restrooms at the airport --  32 in public access areas and 60 located beyond security areas for ticketed passengers.

Sakahara said nearly 40 custodial staff (two supervisors, 37 staff) are scheduled to clean the bathrooms throughout the day. But he added that they are short nine staff members on the graveyard shift.

"Our custodial staff cleans each restroom on a rotational basis, 24 hours a day,” he said. “There are situations where a urinal is damaged and needs more extensive repairs or replacement." 

So far this year, eight toilets have been replaced, Sakahara said. Low usage restrooms are cleaned twice a shift (six times a day) and high use facilities are cleaned up to five times a shift (up to 15 times a day), explained Sakahara.

The peak time at the airport is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., said Sakahara, with priority given to cleaning the busiest most frequently used sections of the airport.

High-volume locations include the inter-island terminal restrooms located on the second level, lobby 2 and 3 and Baggage Claim B and C, according to Sakahara, along with all restrooms in the holding areas excluding Makai Pier. In the overseas terminal, he said the central concourse restrooms located near gates 15, 20 and 23 and restrooms located next to checkpoint no.5 are also highly utilized.

Travelers who sent Hawaii News Now pictures believe the conditions are an unacceptable impression left on visitors and residents that doesn’t reflect the message of "aloha."

Some frequent airport users say the restrooms in the main terminal baggage claim area are actually cleaner this year since officials began enforcing and posting “no public sleeping” rules between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.  They say a lot of the homeless were hanging out overnight at the airport and using those facilities.

Regarding the potential visitor industry impact, the Hawaii Tourism Authority responded in a statement by President and CEO, George Szigeti:

“In the past year, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has not received any complaints regarding the restroom conditions at the Honolulu International Airport. However, we understand the importance of the visitor arrival and departure experience at Hawai‘i’s airports and the impression it leaves with visitors to the Hawaiian Islands. We have and will continue to work closely with the State Department of Transportation’s Airport Division on its infrastructure maintenance and improvements, as well as the $2.7 billion Hawai‘i Airports Modernization Program that will ultimately transform our state’s airports into world-class facilities.” 

Meanwhile, major improvements are underway at Hawaii’s airports as part of airport modernization programs.

According to the modernization website, the improvements will enhance the “security, safety, capacity, and efficiency of Hawaii's airports system,” with the goal to transform them into “world-class facilities over the next decade, so they can meet the future needs of our residents and visitors alike.”

Improvements to Honolulu International are expected to be $750 million.

Spending is funded through airport user fees. The website states those fees “include airline rents and landing fees, federal grants, passenger facility charges, and airport revenue bonds that will be paid back with airport user fees. General funds will not be used.”

So what should you do if you see a problem or an unsightly concern at the airport? Sakahara said you can alert any custodian on duty, maintenance personnel, Visitor Information Person (VIP), or call the Honolulu Airport telephone operator at 836-6411.

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