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HNL Renamed in Honor of Sen. Inouye

May 31, 2017, 9:13 AM HST
* Updated May 31, 12:55 PM
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HNL is officially the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Photo courtesy: HDOT

The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation officially announced a name change for the Honolulu International Airport.

The airport has been renamed the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), in honor of the man who served as the state’s U.S. Senator from 1963 to 2012.

The Senator passed away in December of 2012.

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“Dan spent more than 50 years flying between Honolulu and Washington, D.C., representing the people of Hawai‘i,” said Irene Hirano Inouye, the late Senator’s wife. “The iconic tower upon which his name is now affixed is a beacon and beckoning symbol to visitors and residents alike. I know he is pleased and smiling down on us. Thank you for this honor for Dan and the Inouye family.”

“Sen. Inouye made a lasting and positive impact on our state, nation and world,” said Gov. David Ige. “His life reflects who we are today as a people, place and culture. His work as a public servant tells a modern-day story that will benefit future generations. It is fitting that our international airport will be named after the Senator so that we may honor and remember him and others of his generation for the legacy they left behind. I hope those who work at and travel through our international airports will be reminded of Sen. Inouye’s life and the values he lived by.”

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Daniel Ken Inouye was born in Honolulu Sept. 7, 1924, and graduated from William McKinley High School, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and George Washington University. He served as Hawai‘i’s first representative in Congress in 1959. In 1962, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, making him the first Japanese-American to serve in both the House and Senate, ultimately representing Hawai‘i for a combined 53 years.

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He was the second-longest serving Senator in history and rose to the rank of president pro tempore, which is third on the presidential succession list, making him the highest-ranking Asian American public official in U.S. history.

During his tenure, he continuously secured much-needed federal funding for Hawai‘i that benefited projects on all islands.

Sen. Inouye is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, the nation’s highest award for military valor, for his heroic and courageous actions while serving in the decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Despite being shot in the stomach and losing his right arm to a rifle grenade, Inouye continued fighting and leading his men in combat, eventually destroying multiple German bunkers in the battle.

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After his death in 2012, Sen. Inouye was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, making him the first Senator to receive both the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor.

For additional information regarding his distinguished and legendary career, go online.

More About the Name Change and the Airport

The State Legislature approved House Concurrent Resolution 88 Senate Draft 2 in the 2016 session calling on the airport to be renamed after Senator Daniel K. Inouye. The resolution passed unanimously. To read the resolution, go online.

The HDOT Airports Division has replaced the iconic “Honolulu International Airport” lettering above the district office building with new signage stating, “Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.” The lettering is black during the day and illuminated white at night. New signage over the roadway signs above the entrances to the airport from the H-1 Freeway are also in place.

The general contractor for the project is Global Specialty Contractors Inc. The total cost of the new signage, parts, materials, labor, removal of old signs and repairs to the structures for new signs was nearly $1M. Because HDOT is self-sustaining no general funds were used, meaning no tax money was spent on the project. Instead, HDOT generates its own revenue through user fees. In the Airport Division’s case, project costs, operating expenses and salaries primarily comes from concessions and airline revenue. Primary sources of funding include, landing fees, terminal rentals, parking revenue and passenger facility charges.

With more than 20 million annual passengers, 23,000 employees, more than 300,000 aircraft operations a year, and encompassing an area larger than Waikiki, the former Honolulu International Airport, is the biggest and most active airport in the state. The 24/7 facility is visited by residents and visitors from around the world. Twenty-five airlines serve the airport offering direct flights to and from the neighbor islands and dozens of national and international destinations.

HDOT will officially reference the facility as the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, however the Federal Aviation Administration will continue to use the HNL acronym.

A Daniel K. Inouye exhibit showcases the life and career of the late Senator through photographs and memorabilia. The exhibit is located in the Overseas Terminal near gate 24, which is one of the busiest sections of the airport educating thousands of people a day about his contributions and legacy.

In addition, there is an exhibit celebrating the Nisei veterans of World War II, many of whom fought with the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Sen. Inouye fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in U.S. history based on size and length of service. The exhibit was produced to preserve and perpetuate the acts of heroism and the achievements of the Japanese American soldiers in World War II. It is located in the makai end of the Interisland Terminal near gate 56.

This is the fourth name change in the airport’s long history. It originally opened in 1927 as the John Rodgers Airport. After surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor the airport was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947. The International designation was included in 1951.

The airport utilizes six runways, including two sealanes. A unique airport feature is the Reef Runway, which was the first major runway in the world to be built offshore. There are three cultural gardens featuring Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese heritage, which offer travelers a relaxing break where they can learn about native Asian and Hawaiian plants and architecture.

To view additional photos, click here.

For additional information about the Daniel K. Inouye airport and its features, go online.

Ken and Jessica Inouye and their daughter Maggie helped Kahu Kordell Kekoa bless the new signs that are displayed above the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport District Office Tower. Photo courtesy: HDOT

Kahu Kordell Kekoa (from left to right); Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell; Gov. David Ige’s Chief of Staff Mike McCartney; Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye; Ken Inouye, Sen. Inouye’s son; Maggie Inouye, Sen. Inouye’s granddaughter; U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard and State Senate President Ronald Kouchi participate in the traditional untying of the maile lei during the ceremony. Photo courtesy: HDOT


The new Daniel K. Inouye International Airport sign on the Airports Division District Office Tower is black during the day and illuminates white at night. The picture shows the mauka side of the building. Photo courtesy: HDOT

In a touching moment Maggie Inouye, granddaughter of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, placed her hand with blessed Hawaiian water on to her grandfather’s face during the blessing ceremony while Kahu Kordell Kekoa, Mrs. Irene Hirano Inouye and Ken Inouye, Maggie’s dad, looked on. Photo courtesy: HDOT

New signage displaying Daniel K. Inouye International Airport has been installed on the Airports Division District Office Tower and above the roadway signs at the entrance of the facility. Photo courtesy: HDOT

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