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Brisk business at Lihu‘e Airport in October

LIHU‘E —Passenger counts at Lihu‘e Airport soared past 70,000 last month, in turn setting a new high for the month of October.

A total 71,933 passengers deplaned from domestic flights at the airport in October, compared with 62,859 in October 2021, according to data compiled by the Department of Business, Economic Development &Tourism. That marked an increase of approximately 14.4 percent in the period.

Business at the airport started to rebound from the economic malaise brought on by COVID-19 pandemic about midway through 2021 and has continued its strong run in 2022.

Passenger counts in each month of 2022 have been well above comparable periods for 2021, which means the airport is on track to post its busiest year in terms of the number of people coming to the island via domestic flights.

The busiest month of the year, thus far, was July when 96,227 passengers deplaned from domestic flights followed by June with 95,824 and August at 83,331.

Neighboring islands also recorded solid numbers in October. Passenger counts were strongest on O‘ahu last month, as 408,798 people deplaned from domestic flights. That was up from 338,387 in October 2021, the department data showed.

A total of 186,862 passengers deplaned from domestic flights on Maui in October, compared with 165,968 in October 2021. And, 88,061 passengers deplaned from domestic flights on Hawai‘i Island, which was up from 77,879 in October 2021.

The average daily totals for the four islands worked out to 13,187 for O‘ahu; 6,028 for Maui; 2,841 for Hawai‘i Island; and 2,320 for Kaua‘i. Of note, the department data is subject to revision.

“The tourism numbers continue to look good. And Kaua‘i is a destination,” said Carl Bonham, Executive Director of the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawai‘i, on the general state of the industry.

But he also cautioned that certain factors, such as a string of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve that are being used as a means to combat inflation, could put a damper on tourism in 2023.

“Next year, our view for Kaua‘i and the rest of the state — we are sort of in pause mode while we really wait for the Fed,” Bonham said.

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Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or whaupt@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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