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PHDH offers visitors glider rides, skydiving, and flying lessons, with activity that supports 130 jobs and injects $12 million into the struggling state economy, according to AOPA officials.
A newspaper poll that sampled public opinion on Hawaii’s economic prospects stressed the importance of travel to the state’s recovery from the “April trough” that slammed tourism and business transportation and triggered major statewide job losses as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
“The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization last month forecast that it will take more than three years — until after 2023 — for the state economy to regain the level it was at last year or even the year before,” the Star Advertiser newspaper reported on Oct. 20, 2020.
Against that tenuous but hopeful backdrop, it would be a “travesty” if the Hawaii Department of Transportation acted on its intention to end its lease of Dillingham Airfield from the U.S. Army four years early, ending its run as a general aviation airport and shutting down 11 businesses that inject $12 million into the local economy, said state Sen. Gil Riviere (D-District 23) in a recent broadcast interview.
“There’s just so much potential. We’ve got to save it,” he said.
The aviation sector has rallied around the airport since the state revealed plans to seek an early end to its airport lease that would otherwise expire in 2025.
However, time to save Dillingham Airfield — known to backers as “Northern Oahu’s Gateway to the Sky” — is growing short. The scheduled closing date is June 30, 2021. The Save Dillingham Airfield support group recently warned that state officials plan to take preliminary steps toward the shutdown beginning in January.
Riviere believes that the closure plan undervalues the airport’s contribution to the community’s well-being and its starring role in Hawaii tourism.
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