December 01, 2016

Hirono: Reestablishment of Kona Federal Inspection Facility Benefits Hawaii Economy

Direct International Flights to and from Kona to Resume on December 20

Senator Mazie K. Hirono applauded today’s announcement that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will reestablish a Federal Inspection Services (FIS) facility at Kona International Airport.  The FIS checkpoint allows for international visitors to fly directly to and from Kona. 

“After six years of working closely with federal and state officials, and community partners to reestablish direct international flights to Kona International Airport, today’s announcement is good news for Hawaii’s tourism industry and the Hawaii Island economy,” said Senator Hirono. “In particular, I want to acknowledge the efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to work with the state on the Federal Inspection Service facility that made this a reality.”

“The resumption of international flights to Kona will have a wide-range of positive impacts on Hawaii Island and the state as a whole by boosting tourism spending, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars for our economy,” said Gov. David Y. Ige. “I especially thank our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for working with us to achieve this goal. This was a top priority for my administration and I am pleased that we were able to make the Federal Inspection Service facility in Kona a reality.”

“The advocacy of Sen. Hirono and the entire Hawaii Congressional delegation was instrumental in making our Haneda-Kona route a reality,” said Peter Ingram, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are excited to bring back international flights to the Big Island by offering our Japanese guests convenient access to the beautiful Kona coast.”

Hawaiian Airlines will begin three-times weekly direct service from Kona to Haneda Airport in Tokyo on December 20, 2016. Senator Hirono wrote to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to urge him to approve Hawaiian Airlines’ application for the direct route. The U.S. Department of Transportation approved Hawaiian Airlines’ application on May 13, 2016.

After the temporary Kona FIS facility was shut down in 2010, Senator Hirono brought together top state and federal officials, and community leaders to work on establishing a permanent facility. Senator Hirono also supported legislation and advocated directly to CBP to grant the State of Hawaii the ability to reimburse the federal government for expanded service to process international travelers.