WARWICK – The R.I. Airport Corp. said it is seeking legislation to change the name of T.F. Green Airport to Rhode Island International Airport, the corporation announced Wednesday.
Legislation is expected to be introduced today by R.I. House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick, and R.I. Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey, D-Warwick.
The call for a name change comes after RIAC commissioned a poll, conducted by Pan Atlantic Research, of 1,509 people in four segments about the airport’s name.
The survey included 609 Rhode Islanders, 57.8 percent of whom couldn’t correctly identify T.F. Green Airport by name unaided.
The survey also found 64 percent of Rhode Islanders believed the new name will be best for the economy of the state and region, however only 37.4 percent supported the new name, while 41.5 percent were neutral and 21 percent opposed the name change.
“Our airline partners have been telling us they believe the name change will increase travel at the airport,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, RIAC president and CEO, in a statement. “The critical feedback is coming from tourism officials overseas as well as our airline partners servicing routes domestically.”
The poll also found only 54.7 percent of Rhode Islanders in the study knew the airport offered international flights.
The airport has seen rapid growth in the past few years, servicing five new airlines and 17 new nonstop destinations last year alone, RIAC noted.
McCaffrey agreed the name change would aid further growth for the airport.
“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,” McCaffrey said in a statement.
The poll showed 10.3 percent of residents in major U.S. cities and 13.3 percent of European residents were able to correctly identify T.F. Green by name.
T.F. Green Airport was established in 1931 as the Hillsgrove State Airport. The airport was renamed in 1938 after then-Sen. Theodore F. Green, D-R.I., who had previously served as governor of Rhode Island. Green was integral in the expansion of the airport as governor.
Lauren Aratani is a PBN contributing writer.