Concerns take flight over the future of Dillingham Air Field

Concerns take flight over future of Dillingham air field

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Businesses at the Dillingham Air Field on Oahu say they’ve been hearing that the state plans to shut down the small air field soon, but none of them have been officially informed.

It’s not the first time those concerns have taken light.

“It appears the Department of Transportation is looking to shut down Dillingham Airfield, and they’ve made some initial moves in that area,” said state Sen. Gil Riviere, whose district includes the airfield. “I’ve been working with them and the governor to reverse that consideration."

The airfield at Mokuleia is home to companies that provide glider rides, skydiving, and even training for pilots. That’s what Acroflight Hawaii does, with Northshore Aircraft Leasing Company.

“Navy pilots, the Air Force, Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, UPS -- all those people, they took training for us,” said Ana Gromacki with Northshore Aircraft Leasing.

“Well, it’s an important recreational area,” said Riviere. “You’ve got general aviation out there. You’ve got hundreds of people working. There’s hundreds of people who would be out of work. That’s unfathomable to me.”

An online petition said businesses operating at the airfield were told to be out by June 30.

A state DOT spokesman said the land is owned by the U.S. Army. He said that the state currently has a five year lease to operate the air field, and that lease has a few more years to go. He said the department has no plans to close down the field, and that any closure decision would have to come from the Army.

The spokesman also said the rumor about Dillingham Airfield was just that -- a rumor.

It’s not the first time there’s been such talk. In 2012, there were reports that the state was considering letting its last lease with the Army to expire because the field wasn’t generating enough revenue.

Northshore Aircraft Leasing’s Gromacki said while she hasn’t been informed of any closure, there’s been more oversight since last June’s skydiving aircraft crash at the field.

“The Airports Division has been very active, bombarding us about insurance -- which I don’t blame them -- because of the incident that killed 11 people,” she said.

“General excise taxes, the income taxes that are generated, the tourism opportunities for visitors -- this is a very integrated element to our district and I think we’ve got to do everything we can to keep it alive and functioning,” said Riviere.

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