Report: Disaster could ground Honolulu airport traffic for 12 days

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Emergency officials reviewing the state's disaster response vulnerabilities after the false missile alert are pointing at Honolulu airport as a major point of weakness.

With 20 million travelers passing through it last year, the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is easily the busiest air hub in Hawaii.

But a new report written by the state's adjutant general says a natural disaster could put its runways out of commission, grounding aircraft for up to 12 days.

Transportation officials, though, say that would only happen in an absolute worst-case scenario.

State Transportation Department spokesman Tim Sakahara added the airport has disaster plans that would help minimize damage and expedite recovery time. For example, in the event of a forecast disaster, like a hurricane, equipment would be strategically placed throughout the airport ahead of time.

"Afterward, if we need to clear debris from the runway, it will be staged in position to get out and mobilize as quickly as possible," Sakahara said.

The report also suggests Honolulu airport could have as little as four days worth of jet fuel.

Sakahara says the report failed to account for a second tank also on airport property.

"One of them has four to five days of fuel capacity. The other has about 15-20 days of jet fuel on hand," he said.

"If both are filled to the max it's more like 30 days."

A project is also underway to increase fuel storage capacity at the airport.

And the state says military jet fuel supplies could also be tapped after a disaster.

State Rep. Matt LoPresti has been trying for years to bring attention to the state's capacity to tackle disasters.

He's scheduled a March 8 briefing at the state Capitol to discuss the issue.

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