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Are you wondering about airports in Hawaii Big Island accommodating major traffic?

There are two major airports in Hawaii big island that hold major air traffic. Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA) situated at Keahole and the Hilo International Airport (ITO) located east of Hilo are the two major airports in the Big Island.

The majority of flights into both airports; Hilo and Kona originate as inter-island flights from Oahu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (main hub for interisland flights) and other local airports in the Hawaii islands. An example of a small local airport is Molokai’s small interstate airport.

Now that, you knew the name of two major airports in Hawaii Big Island. Let’s learn more about the Kona and Hilo Airport.

Stay at the end of this article as we will discover more airports in Hawaii Big Island.

Kona International Airport (KOA)

Kona International Airport (KOA) located at Keahole, about seven miles northwest of Kailua-Kona is one of the major airports in Hawaii Big Island. The airport situated at an elevation of 47 feet above mean sea level (AMSL) occupies a land of approximately 3450 acres.

The service offered by the airport includes general aviation activities, commuter/air taxis, international flights, interisland flights, and domestic overseas. The airport offers facilities like general aviation operations, airport support, air cargo and mail service, arrival, and departure section via a complex at the eastern edge of the airfield.

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Kona International Airport (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

The complex of facilities can be reached through a roadway extending from the Queen Kaahumanu Highway. The public parking and rental car check-in facilities are enclosed in the form of a one-way loop with the access roadway.

Along the primary highway, midway between the passenger terminals, and the airport access roadway, there lies an additional complex of facilities that includes general maintenance, rental car agencies, and a storage section.

Besides, the operations such as cargo, and general aviation are placed to the southern part of the passenger terminal and the access roadway.

KOA Runway and Aircraft Information

The Kona International Airport features an asphalt runway with dimensions 11,000 by 150 feet (3553 X 46 m) and the runway designation is 17/35.

With the above runway dimensions, the airport accommodates various Airbus and Boeing jetliners including Airbus A330, A321, Boeing 777, B767, B757, B737, B717, and various other small interisland aircraft and private aviation planes.

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Kona International Airport terminal (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

Airlines operating in KOA

Popular airlines including Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Mokulele Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and WestJet operate regular flights to and from the Kona International Airport.

Besides, cargo operating companies namely UPS Airlines, Kalitta Air, Amazon Air, and Aloha Air Cargo conduct cargo flights from the airport to various destinations.

Top destinations from KOA

Honolulu, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kahului, Phoenix, San Jose, Oakland, Denver, and Portland are the busiest domestic destinations where airlines operate flights from Kona International Airport.

Passenger Flights

Air CanadaVancouver
Alaska AirlinesLos Angeles, Portland, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle/Tacoma
American AirlinesLos Angeles, Phoenix-Sky Harbor
Delta Air LinesLos Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma
Hawaiian AirlinesHonolulu, Kahului, Lihue, Los Angeles, Tokyo Haneda
Japan AirlinesTokyo Narita
Mokulele AirlinesKahului, Kapalua
Southwest AirlinesHonolulu, Kahului, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose
United AirlinesChicago-O Hare, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco
WestJetVancouver, Calgary (Seasonal)

Cargo Flights

Aloha Air CargoHilo, Honolulu, Kahului
Amazon AirRiverside
Kalitta AirLos Angeles
UPS Airlines Honolulu, Kahului, Ontario

Accidents and Incidents record at KOA

August 25, 1977Air Cargo Hawaii twin-turboprop Short SC.7 Skyvan crashed and burned while attempting to land at Keahole Airport. The pilot and passenger were killed. The crash occurred about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) short of the runway.
September 10, 1989The pilot of an Aero Commander 680 was making an emergency landing on runway 17 due to a loss of power in the right engine. He crashed about 0.25 mi (0.4 km) southwest of the runway, resulting in one fatality and one serious injury.

KOA Technical Information

LocationKeahole, about seven miles northwest of Kailua-Kona
Runway dimension3553 X 46 m
Runway designation17/35

Important information regarding KOA operation

Airports have certain rules, regulations, facilities, and other requirements based on the standards. Some important information provided by the KOA are listed below.

  • Passengers need to check with their airline for arrival time prior to a flight as each airline feature unique check-in requirements.
  • Passengers need to request their checked luggage be tagged to their final destination otherwise, it might get misplaced. For instance, if the final destination on the passenger’s ticket reads ITO, their luggage will be dropped off at Hilo International Airport.
  • There is the availability of a Visitor Information Program at the Kona International Airport that will assist passengers with the airport and tourist-related information.
  • The airport doesn’t offer facilities like showering and short naps for layovers however, there are closest hotels (seven miles) from the airport.
  • Baggage storage and locker facilities are not available at the Kona International Airport due to the strengthened airport security requirements.
  • Since Kona does not feature public transportation system, passengers are required to opt for rental cars and taxis.

Hilo International Airport (ITO)

The Hilo International Airport was known as General Lyman Field prior to 1989 and it is one of the major airports in Hawaii Big Island. The airport located two miles east of Hilo on the eastern shore of Hawaii island holds 1391 acres of land.

The airport features two runways which are the primary runway (8/26) and crosswind runway (3/21).

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Hilo International Airport (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

The southern side of the airport equips the passenger terminal complex with commuter facilities. This site can be reached via an access roadway from Kekuanaoa Avenue, the crosswind runway to the west, and between the passenger terminal complex.

Along the eastern side of the crosswind runway, there are general aviation facilities that can also be reached via a terminal access roadway. A parking apron facility is provided for transient military aircraft at the western section of the runway.

Hilo International Airport Runway and Aircraft Information

Hilo International Airport accommodates two runways namely the Primary runway and Crosswind runway. The primary runway is 9800 feet long with designation 8/26 and is primarily used for air carrier operations. The 5600 feet long crosswind runway with designation 3/21 is mainly used for general aviation operations.

The primary runway is capable of accommodating big jets like the Boeing 747. USAF military transport flights with Lockheed C-5 Galaxy are also operated from this runway.

In contrast, the crosswind runway is used for general aviation operations like take-off and landing of small aircraft. Besides, the runway is also capable of handling narrow-body aircraft including Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

Terminal Area of Hilo Int’l Airport

The airport consists of an air carrier passenger terminal and commuter terminal located in the southern part and served by an access roadway from Hawaii Belt Road.

Air Carrier Passenger Terminal

The air carrier passenger terminal comprises three interconnected buildings with a central building occupying 120,000 square feet area and a western and eastern building holding almost 50,00 square feet area.

The apron is located in front of the passenger terminal that holds the capability to accommodate 10 aircraft. Each parking apron can facilitate a jumbo jet like a Boeing 747. Out of the 10 parking positions, 8 are available for planes while the remaining 2 are reserved for eleven helicopter parking. Besides, there are seven-passenger loading bridges available at the airport.

Commuter Terminal

The commuter terminal is located to the west of the main passenger terminal. It is a small and stand-alone building that is leased by an aerial tour company.

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Hawaiian Airlines B717 at Hilo International Airport (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

Airlines and Destinations

Some major airlines including Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Mokulele Airlines operate regular flights to and from the Hilo International Airport. The popular destinations include Honolulu, Los Angeles, and Kahului. Besides, cargo operators Aloha Air Cargo and Transair operate cargo flights.

Passenger Flights

Hawaiian AirlinesHonolulu, Kahului
Mokulele AirlinesKahului
Southwest AirlinesHonolulu
United AirlinesLos Angeles

Cargo Flights

Aloha Air CargoHonolulu, Kahului, Kailua-Kona
TransairHonolulu, Kahului

Accidents and Incidents at Hilo International Airport

January 6, 1967Curtiss C-46 Commando operated by Channel Air Lift crashed at General Lyman Field. A shift in cargo during takeoff caused the aircraft to stall and crash attempting to return to the airport. All three occupants were killed.
April 28, 1988Aloha Airlines Boeing 737-200 operating Flight 243 from General Lyman Field (as Hilo International Airport was known then) to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Honolulu International Airport) carrying 89 passengers and 5 crew members experienced rapid decompression when an 18 feet (5.5 m) section of the fuselage roof and sides were torn from the airplane. One flight attendant was blown out of the airplane and died. Several passengers sustained life-threatening injuries including instances of massive head wounds.
October 7, 2011Cessna 310 piloted by a 65-year-old pilot coming from Monterey, California, declared an emergency landing at about 12:30 PM. The plane was low on fuel, so it made a water landing 13 miles offshore of the Big Island.

Hilo Int’l Airport technical information

LocationKeahole, about seven miles northwest of Kailua-Kona
Runway dimension9800 feet primary runway
5600 feet crosswind runway
Runway designation8/26 (primary)
3/21 (crosswind)

We explored the major airports in Hawaii Big Island. Now let’s find out other airports on the big island.

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)

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Daniel International Airport (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

The Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) is known as the busiest and most beautiful airport. This airport formerly known as Honolulu International Airport occupies 4520 acres of fast and submerged land.

The airport features four active runways and the 12,000-feet reef runway is a major attraction. This reef runway became the world’s first major runway build entirely offshore.

As per the statistics, HNL serves more than 21 million passengers each year. Various international and domestic carriers, commuter airlines, and interisland airlines operate regular flights to and from the airport.

Kahului Airport (OGG)

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Kahului Airport (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

Kahului Airport is situated on the northern edge of the land bridge of the island of Maui between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountain Range. It is known as the second busiest airport in the state of Hawaii. In terms of terminal facilities, the airport is categorized as newest and updated.

The airport features two intersecting runways and offers interisland commercial service along with domestic overseas. Besides, general aviation operations, helicopter operations, commuter/taxi services are also offered.

Dillingham Airfield (HDH)

Dillingham Airfield is a general aviation airport owned by the U.S. Army and handled by the Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division (HDOTA).

The airport occupies 272 acres of the 650-acre Dillingham Military Reservation and the land is leased. Commercial glider and skydiving operations can be executed with the single 5000-foot runway. The airfield is primarily used by US Army for night-vision helicopter training and air-land operations.

Hana Airport (HNM)

Hana Airport (Airports in Hawaii Big Island)

Hana Airport is a small airfield located at an elevation of 78 feet on the northeast side of the Island of Maui covering an area of 119 acres.

The airport features an asphalt runway measuring 3606 by 100 feet with designation 8/26. Mokulele Airlines operates scheduled passenger service to the destination Kahului from Hana. The airport is mainly used by the residents and visitors to Hana.

Kalaeloa Airport (JRF)

Kalaeloa Airport is owned and operated by the Oahu District of the State Airports System and is the supporter airport for Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

This airport is mainly used by the Hawaii National Guard, Hawaii Community College Flight Program, and U.S. Coast Guard.

Some recent enhancements at the airport include partial runway paving, a new airfield lighting system, emergency power systems, communications, and fire fighting equipment.

Kapalua Airport (JHM)

The Kapalua Airport is a small airport located on the west side of the Island of Maui. Flights at the airport are conducted by commercial propeller air carriers and commuter/air taxi aircraft.

The airfield holds a single asphalt runway with terminal and support facilities. The airport can be accessed from a two-lane road off of Honoapiilani Highway.

Kalaupapa Airport (LUP)

The Kalaupapa Airport (LUP) is served by commuter planes and it offers flight service to the residents of Kalaupapa Settlement and visitors wishing to tour Kalaupapa National Historic Park. The airport holds a short asphalt runway with designation 5/23.

Lanai Airport (LNY)

Lanai Airport is situated on the island of Lanai which is three miles southwest of Lanai city. The airport features a single runway and operates scheduled commuter/taxi flights, interisland flights along with some general aviation activities, and unscheduled charter flights.

The airport offers cargo, airport support facilities, parking, and car facilities.

Lihue Airport (LIH)

Lihue Airport is another airports in the Hawaii Big Island located on the southeast coast of the island of Kauai and it occupies almost 884 acres of land. The airport offers services including commuter/taxi, domestic, overseas, interisland, air cargo, heliport, and generation aviation operations.

The airfield equips two runways of dimension 6500’ X 150’, eight gates, aprons, taxiways, airport air traffic controllers, and helipads. In addition, the airport also features navigational aids including ILS, VORTAC, PAPI, and DME.

Molokai Airport (MKK)

Molokai Airport is situated on the central plateau of the island of Molokai. It is among the airports in Hawaii Big Island that occupies 288 acres of land. The airport features two runways capable of handling general aviation activities, commuter/air taxi operations, and some military flights.

The airport is owned and operated by the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation Airports Division.

Port Allen Airport (PAK)

Port Allen Airport is located in Hanapepe, Kauai and it is primarily used for general aviation purposes including skydiving, ultralight flights, and scenic helicopter tours. It is among the beautiful airports in Hawaii Big Island.

The airport occupies land space of almost 180 acres and features an asphalt runway with dimensions 2450 feet by 60 feet and designations 9/27.

Upolu Airport (UPP)

Upolu Airport is a small airport located 3 miles northwest of Hawaii and primarily used for general aviation operations. It is also among the airports in Hawaii Big Island as it occupies 82 acres of land space and features a single runway with dimensions 3800 feet X 75 feet.

The airport does not offer any aviation services.

Waimea-Kohala Airport (MUE)

The US Marine Corps built a small airstrip near Kamuela, Hawaii which was known as Bordelon Field. The airfield consisted of a graded and oiled strip with a length of 3000 feet.

The Hawaii Aeronautics Commission leased this airfield from Parker Ranch to offer air service to the Waimea district after the war however, the field was not adequate for scheduled passenger service.

What airport do you fly into for Big Island Hawaii?

The Big Island of Hawaii has two main airports:

  1. Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport (KOA): The primary airport on the island, located near Kona on the west side. It caters to transpacific and interisland flights, making it the preferred choice for visitors staying on the west side, including the Kohala Coast and Kailua-Kona.
  2. Hilo International Airport (ITO): Situated on the east side near Hilo, this airport primarily handles interisland flights, with a few international flights. It is the recommended option for visitors staying on the east side, including areas like Volcanoes National Park and Hilo.

Which airport is better Kona or Hilo?

The choice between Kona International Airport (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO) depends on your specific travel plans and destination on the Big Island of Hawaii.

    Is there more than one airport in Kona Hawaii?

    No, Kona, Hawaii has only one commercial airport known as Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA). It functions as the primary airport for the west side of the Big Island, facilitating both transpacific and interisland flights.

    What airport do you fly into for Hilo Hawaii?

    To reach Hilo, Hawaii, you should land at Hilo International Airport (ITO). Situated on the east side of the Big Island, Hilo International Airport mainly caters to interisland flights, offering a limited number of international options. It is the optimal selection for travelers staying in Hilo or exploring the eastern part of the island.

    How long is flight from Honolulu to Hilo?

    The travel time from Honolulu (HNL) to Hilo (ITO or KOA) is approximately 55 minutes. Both Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest offer multiple non-stop flight options for this route.

    What is the cheapest day of the week to fly to Hawaii?

    In general, the most budget-friendly days to fly to Hawaii are Tuesday and Wednesday. These days tend to be less popular for travel, prompting airlines to provide lower fares to fill up flights.

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    Suman Karki
    Suman Karki is the founder of the AviaTech Channel blog and YouTube Channel. He is a passionate aviation enthusiast and holds experience working as a Ground Operations Officer for Swissport International. He is currently serving as a Flight Data Feeder for FlightAware (a US-based company for Flight Tracking). Besides, he has worked as an aviation content editor for various aviation media.



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