Security elevated at state airports after LAX shooting


By NANCY COOK LAUER

Stephens Media Hawaii

Hawaii airports were put under heightened security early Friday in response to a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, but it was pretty much “business as usual” at the Big Island’s two airports by the time nonstop flights were scheduled to leave for and arrive from LAX.

Security was elevated shortly after a 9:30 a.m. Pacific time shooting at LAX that left a security agent dead and six other people injured. The airport went into “ground stop,” where outgoing flights were held at their gates and incoming flights diverted. The ground stop was expected to be lifted about 4 p.m. Pacific time.

United Airlines’ direct flight 289 from Los Angeles to Kona International Airport left about 30 minutes late and arrived about 15 minutes late at 11:45 a.m. The United Airlines direct flight 234 left Kona on time at 1 p.m.

The direct flight from LAX to Hilo International Airport, Flight 1004, was anticipated to leave on time at 5:15 p.m. to arrive in Hilo at 8 p.m.

“There was minimal impact to us,” said Reid Shigeoka, United Airlines general manager for Hilo and Kona, in a telephone interview about 2 p.m. “We’ve been business as usual on the Big Island.”

American Airlines Flight 247 left LAX about 20 minutes late, but was expected to make up that time and arrive at Kona International Airport at 7:48 p.m. as scheduled, according to the website flightaware.com.

As a precaution, Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division stepped up security at airports statewide, said spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter in a statement. Additional security guards were called in where possible and security was tightened at curbside, checkpoints and throughout the airports. All employees were reminded to remain vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious activity.

As more information became available regarding the incident at LAX and it was determined that there was no credible threat to Hawaii, security measures reverted back to normal levels at around 11 a.m. Hawaii time.

“Hawaii DOT Airports Division has plans and protocols in place for incidents at our airports,” Sluyter said. “These protocols are made in cooperation with our law enforcement partners.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority, in a statement released about 10 a.m., said flights from Hawaii airports to Los Angeles were departing as scheduled.

While state deputy sheriffs were reported to be visible at Honolulu International Airport, the Hilo airport was taking a much less noticeable approach to the heightened security. The airport was quiet when a Stephens Media reporter visited it about 1 p.m. Several employees in the airport were unaware of the LAX shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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