State cracks down on Honolulu hangar tenants

Published: Sep. 6, 2013 at 10:17 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 6, 2013 at 10:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is cracking down on tenants at the Honolulu International Airport. Several small businesses renting T-hangars are frustrated by the state's crackdown after years of lax enforcement.

The state checked hangars and handed out citations on Friday. The Department of Transportation put up notices about the inspections two weeks ago. Roughly 80 of the small hangars are rented out.

"There are numerous businesses that have been operated down here for a period of 20 or more years. Lots and lots of people have their livelihood down here, either in maintenance or in flight instruction, tours," explained Brant Swigart, owner of Rainbow Pacific Helicopters.

Violations include unauthorized storage of non-aeronautical items like golf clubs and carts. Other offenses relate to electrical issues. Each tenant signs off on the state's rules to obtain a revocable permit.

"But they never really adhere to it, well now they want to adhere to it, but compliance with those rules and the permit might make it difficult or impossible for us to continue to operate," said Swigart.

A DOT spokesperson admitted that the agency hasn't been strict about enforcement, and said an FAA audit is prompting the push to make sure tenants follow the regulations. Failure to comply could cost the state millions in federal airport funds, according to the DOT.

"We have been going around and talking to different permit holders and letting them know about violations. After several verbal warnings, some citations were issued. There will be follow-ups to make sure that people are complying," said DOT spokesperson Caroline Sluyter.

"I don't think that's with the intent of bringing everybody into compliance, but more to intimidate and harass and create an atmosphere where it's either too inconvenient or uncomfortable to continue to run our businesses," said Swigart.

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