Maui lies midway between the continental U.S., Asia, and the Pacific Rim nations, offering easy access to a wide variety of international markets. Travel within Maui County’s three islands and between Honolulu and Hawaii’s neighbor islands is available through regular and extensive air and sea travel services. The average commute time in Maui County by ground transportation is about 20 minutes.
The island of Maui’s primary airport (OGG) is located in Kahului, the main business center; the airport also provides general aviation, commuter, and helicopter services. The airport handles about 6 million passengers per year, and the Kahului-Honolulu corridor is ranked as the 13th busiest in the United States (according to the Air Transportation Association of America). The largest interisland carrier is Hawaiian Airlines, which provides frequent service to Honolulu (about 25 direct flights per day), as well as Hilo and Kona on the Big Island (2 direct flights each) and Lihue on Kauai (8 connecting flights daily, via Honolulu). A smaller airline, go!, operated by Mesa Airlines, also flies from Kahului to Honolulu (7 direct daily flights) and Kona (1 direct flight), with connecting service to Hilo and Lihue. Smaller airlines such as Island Air and Mokulele offer limited service from Kahului to Molokai. There is no direct scheduled air service between Kahului and Lanai City. Aloha Airlines, which had competed with Hawaiian Airlines as the state’s main interisland carrier since the 1950s, ceased operation in 2008.
Kahului airport on Maui (OGG) also has direct air links to the mainland, with service (as of 2010) to Anchorage, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle-Tacoma. Major carriers on these Maui routes include Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Continental Airlines, and US Airways. Additional flights and connections, including direct international routes, are available from Honolulu. A smaller, secondary airport on Maui is located close to the resort areas in West Maui at Kapalua (JHM), offering interisland service. Hana, in East Maui, also has a small airport (HNM), with service mainly to Kahului. For the airports located on Molokai (MKK) at Ho’olehua and on Lanai (LNY), the most frequent scheduled service is to Honolulu. A small airport links the isolated hospital community at Kalaupapa on Molokai with Honolulu and Ho’olehua (MKK).
With about 4.8 million tons of cargo passing through Kahului Commercial Harbor each year, water transportation remains the primary means by which goods reach Maui. Two-thirds of this cargo is manufactured goods. Harbor operations are located on 50 acres and include storage, warehouse, office and tenant facilities. Kahului is the only deep-draught harbor in the County and is the busiest port in the state outside Oahu.
Protected by two large breakwaters, the three-pier harbor accommodates cruise ships as well as interisland freight barges, container vessels, other cargo vessels, tug boats, and gasoline and fuel oil tankers (most of the County’s electricity is generated from diesel ol). In 2006, the harbor accommodated over 1,400 vessel arrivals (excluding domestic fishing craft). Because of Kahului Harbor’s size and commercial importance, the Harbors Division, Department of Transportation, State of Hawaii, has devoted special care to long-range planning, and a 2030 Harbor Master Plan is pending.
The Hawaii Superferry, a high-speed catamaran ferry service carrying up to 280 vehicles and over 800 passengers began service in late 2007 between Honolulu and Kahului but was discontinued in March 2009 due to legal challenges.
In addition, smaller boat harbors at Ma’alaea and Lahaina accommodate private recreational vessels and larger boats offering ocean activities, primarily for the visitor market (fishing, snorkeling, whale watching, etc.). Scheduled passenger ferry services from Lahaina to Lanai and Molokai are important transportation links for those islands. The main harbor on Molokai is located in Kaunakakai; on Lanai, the harbor at Kaumalapau handles commercial traffic, and the newly refurbished Manele Harbor serves as the destination for the passenger ferry and public boating activities.