Economic slowdown impacting Neighbor Island airports - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Economic slowdown impacting Neighbor Island airports

Gary Guenther Gary Guenther
Michael Guenther Michael Guenther

By Leland Kim - bio | email

KAHULUI, Maui (KHNL) - That slowdown doesn't just impact the airport here in Honolulu.  Neighbor islands are also suffering.   Kahului Airport, in particular, has also seeing a dramatic drop in airport traffic.

This is a familiar sight at Kahului Airport: a Maui family waiting for loved ones from the mainland. But the hollow hallways of the airport is something quite unfamiliar.

"Pretty empty. There's no people here," said Maui resident Gary Guenther.  "Hardly anybody's traveling anymore. Apparently they can't afford it."

"It's sad. I used to work at the airport here, and it's sad to see nobody," said Maui resident Michael Guenther.  "The lines used to go outside TSA and now there's room in TSA."

Normally you'd have to wait in a long line to get through airport security, but these days the lines are much shorter, practically non-existent.

And this slowdown has directly impacted the Guenther family.

Michael lost his job as a flight attendant two months ago.

"They didn't have enough money, shut our company down. Here I am, laid off," said Michael.  "Not enough passengers and people flying nowadays."

They hope people start coming back to Maui, and pump some money into the local economy.

"We need the tourism because that's a big part of our economy," said Gary.  "But if the airlines have to charge more money, people aren't going to travel.  They're going to stay home, they're going to travel to places closer to home."

As they wait for the economy to pick up, they pick up their relative, Hawaiian style.

Hoping to see more moments like this to help Hawaii's tourism industry.  Next month, domestic flights will be down ten percent from a year ago.  Analysts predict this will keep airfares high.

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