RI International Airport — Airport Corp. Moving Forward with Plans to Change Name

Thursday, February 15, 2018

 

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Norwegian is just one of the new carriers now flying from the airport

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation is asking the legislature to change the name of the airport from T.F. Green to Rhode Island International.

The name change is needed to better market the airport both in Rhode Island and globally.

RIAC officials believe the name change will support better passenger awareness of the airport’s location and destinations along with increased passenger travel.  Of the 376 primary mainland airports in the country as defined by the FAA – airports servicing more than 10,000 passengers annually - only 32, including T.F. Green, do not have the city, region or state in its name.

The airport has added a half-dozen new carriers and more than twenty new direct flight including to Europe and the Caribbean.

Both airlines and tourism experts abroad have told the airport that the name change will help to grow the airport.

The airport was named decades ago after former Governor and U.S. Senator Theodore Francis Green.

Previously, the airport was called Hillsgrove.

In 2010, activists in the Rhode Island labor movement began a drive to change the name of the airport to "Workers Memorial Airport" due to Green's involvement in the violent suppression of a textile workers' strike in Saylesville, Rhode Island in 1934, according to Wikipedia.

House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey are expected to introduce the legislation today – both represent the City of Warwick.

“Our airline partners have been telling us they believe the name change will increase travel at the airport. This critical feedback is coming from tourism officials overseas as well as our airline partners servicing routes domestically. Passengers are not aware there is a new gateway to Southern New England from Europe and the polling we have done to support this decision reflects that feedback,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.

“I’m pleased with the successes that have occurred at the airport this past year, but I am concerned about polling numbers outside of Rhode Island that demonstrate a lack of awareness of T.F. Green’s location and its service area,” said House Majority Leader Shekarchi. “I believe we need to do everything we can to protect and perpetuate the momentum happening at the airport and changing the name to Rhode Island International Airport is part of that process.”

Upon successful passage of legislation to change the airport name, care will be taken to preserve and honor the Theodore Francis Green name by changing the name of the Interlink, the airport’s intermodal station, to the Theodore Francis Green Interlink.

“The airport is an economic engine for Warwick and Rhode Island and this opportunity to raise the airport's brand awareness could attract even more domestic and international travelers to the Ocean State,” said Senate Majority Leader McCaffrey. “More passengers mean more dollars spent at Warwick and Rhode Island businesses.”

A recent brand awareness poll surveyed 1509 respondents in four separate segments, which included 609 Rhode Island residents, 300 Connecticut and Massachusetts residents, 300 air travelers from major U.S. cities and 300 air travelers from Europe. The poll was conducted by Pan Atlantic Research between January 18 and January 23 and revealed the following:

 

RI residents support the name change to Rhode Island International Airport:

•       37.4% support the new name, 41.5% are neutral, and 21.0% oppose

•       64.0% believe the new name will be best for the economy of the state and region

•       62.4% believe it is the best name to represent the destination to inbound travelers

•       53.4% would be more likely to support the name change if they knew airline partners supported the change

•       79.1% believe growth at the airport will make a positive contribution to the economy of the state.

 

The name change to Rhode Island International Airport is also supported outside of Rhode Island. In the U.S. Air travelers (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco) segment of the poll:

 

•       59.3% of respondents support changing the airport’s name to “Rhode Island International Airport” while only 3.7% do not support this change.

•       Only 10.3% of U.S. respondents correctly named Providence and/or Rhode Island as the city/state served by T.F. Green Airport.

•       Four in five respondents (81.7%) believe that the name “Rhode Island International Airport” best represents the destination of Providence, RI and the surrounding area.

•       Four in five of respondents (80.3%) indicated not being aware of the expanded service offered at T.F. Green Airport.

 

“With all the success the airport has recently enjoyed, including the addition of new carriers, and domestic and internally destinations, now is the time to capitalize on that momentum and make the change,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian. “If all of the information available emphasizes the necessity of a name change to showcase the totality of service areas, then we must move in that direction. Our goal has always been to increase the airport’s exposure as an alternative to other regional airports. A name change will certainly increase awareness for travelers both in and out of the Ocean State.”

 

“The name change properly reflects the direction the airport is headed and better identifies Rhode Island as a destination with travelers both domestically and around the world,” said Jonathan N. Savage, chair of RIAC’s Board of Directors.

 

T.F. Green Airport is growing rapidly with five new airlines and 17 nonstop destinations added in the last year alone. RIAC officials believe the name change more accurately reflects the totality of air service provided to and from Green Airport, which includes no less than 10 international destinations. It also provides immediate name recognition - a critical marketing tool for airport officials - when marketing the airport and the state to new airlines.

 

Today, Green Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in the U.S. Its compliment of airlines includes: Air Canada, Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Azores Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, New England Airlines, Norwegian Air, OneJet, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

 

It’s important to note that at the same time, Stewart International Airport in New York is rebranding itself to the New York International Airport at Stewart Field. The move, too, reflects the changing complexion of that airport and the need to be more competitive with nearby airports in the air service industry.

 

Related Slideshow: New Direct Flights from T.F. Green Globally - Updated July, 2018

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