State stay could pave the way for major improvements
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Tenants at Dillingham Airfield said the state’s decision not to terminate the airport lease prematurely would save up to 130 jobs and could pave the way for improvements major.
“A huge weight has been lifted on the tenants,” said Ben Devine, manager of Save Dillingham Airfield.
“It gives people the opportunity to look up from an obstacle immediately on the horizon and really plan for their future now.”
After operating the airfield since 1961 on land it leases from the military, the state announced in February 2020 that it was prematurely terminating its lease due to cost and safety concerns.
Officials said the state was losing about $ 1 million a year. And since 1988, NTSB records show 15 people have died in plane and parachuting incidents there.
But the state turned the tide this week, saying it won’t seek to prematurely terminate its lease, which runs until July 2024. The about-face came after months of meetings with tenants, local lawmakers , congressional leaders and the residents and community of the North Shore. leaders.
Many of these interveners argued that the airport is too important for the economy of the North Shore to close. Before the pandemic, it employed around 130 workers and generated around $ 12 million in income per year.
Lawmakers in the region have said those airport jobs would have been lost had the state closed.
“It truly is a jewel of the North Shore,” said State Representative Lauren Matsumoto (Mililani, Mokuleia).
“With COVID, with so many closures, this is an opportunity for so much economic activity. “
The decision to let operations continue until at least July 2024 will give tenants and other stakeholders time to negotiate a long-term lease with the state and the military. This would give them the opportunity to invest in major improvements.
“I think this is great news. I’m glad we can stay in business. A lot of us have nowhere to go, ”said Scott Blackley, owner of North Shore Aviation Services.
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