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KOA Opens Federal Inspection Services Facility Ahead of Schedule

October 19, 2021, 1:56 PM HST
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Kahu Daniel Akaka Jr. dedicates the permanent FIS. Left to Right: HDOT Deputy Director for Airports, Ross Higashi; Gov. David Ige; Kahu Daniel Akaka Jr.; Mayor Mitch Roth; and Hawaii District Airports Manager Chauncey Wong-Yuen. PC: HDOT

A new addition to the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) has officially opened.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) Airports Division announced Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, the opening of the permanent Federal Inspection Services (FIS) facility at KOA two months before the agreed deadline of December 2021.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allowed the resumption of international flights to Kona in December 2016 based on HDOT’s commitment to providing a permanent inspection facility. Prior to the resumption, the last regularly scheduled international flight to Kona was in October 2010.

“The ability to receive international flights in Kona has provided significant economic and operational benefits to the state,” said Governor David Ige. “We have made good on the agreements and collaboration that enabled us to resume international flights and will continue to work together for a resilient and vibrant economy.”

The KOA FIS was built for $58.7 million, more than half a million under the contract price of $59.4 million, according to a release from HDOT. The 32,700 square-foot facility meets the technical design standards necessary for certification to receive international arrivals. KOA is one of two international entry points into Hawaiʻi. The other international airport is the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

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“This permanent inspection facility ensures the resilience of our air routes,” said Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay. “Having two international entry points into the state is important in case an emergency impacts our ability to receive flights at an airport.”

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Before the pandemic, as many as 2,500 international visitors arrived at KOA per week on Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines flights from Japan.

“The Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport is a special destination for international visitors,” said Ross Higashi, Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Airports. “The FIS provides a modern, streamlined gateway to Kona while retaining the unique feel of our airport.”

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