Before T.F. Green Airport, it was Hillsgrove and now the Rhode Island Airport Corporation is considering changing the name to Rhode Island International Airport.
That was one of two possible names. The other was Providence International Airport. That name didn't fly with Warwick officials. If anything, those Warwick people interviewed for this story think the FAA designation for the airport should be changed from PVD to WRK, or at least to PVD/WRK.
A possible change in the name flew under the radar until questions arose over whether there might be a backlash to dropping the name Theodore Francis Green and the suggestion that Providence International was an option.
The Providence suggestion rankled Warwick officials and, judging that two of them hold leadership positions in the State House and Senate, not to mention that Scott Avedisian is mayor of the host city of the airport, it didn't get off the ground.
"I am fine with changing the name to Rhode Island International Airport. I have always wanted it to be called Warwick Airport but understand the confusion that the airport faces when people are looking to fly into Rhode Island,” said Avedisian. “The proposed name change will allow to market differently and removes the confusion of the ‘Providence’ airport being located in Warwick.”
Green, for who the airport is now named, had a long political career that started in the State House of Representatives in 1907. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1912 and then for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1920. He persisted and ran for governor unsuccessfully again in 1928 and 1930. Finally, in 1932 he was elected governor and served two terms before running for U.S. Senate at the age of 69 and winning in a landslide. He served in the post until 1961 when, at the age of 92, he retired.
The possibility of a name change was news to Lauren Slocum, president and CEO of the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. She wasted no time in getting a read from chamber members and in an informal poll found a favorable response to Rhode Island International.
"It highlights the state," she said of the name. "It doesn't isolate one place from another." She said there were questions over the cost of "rebranding" the name from changes that would have to be made to signage to brochures and promotional and informational material. And even with a name change, Slocum thought some people, no matter what, would continue to call it Green. She thinks there could still be an appropriate way of honoring Senator Green that "blends honor and history with growth and development."
Rhode Island International, she said, "raises the visibility of the state as a whole and what it has to offer."
Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi, who would likely introduce legislation to change the airport name, said, "I think we need to look at it, yes. And if the Airport Corporation requests it, I will introduce it because I think we need to look at the airport as an economic engine for the state. The benefits around Warwick that you're seeing – the Hyatt Hotel going up, other people interested in putting hotels here – I have a lot of respect for Senator Green and everything he's done, but I think the airport needs to reflect what it is today."
Still, a name change is not a done deal.
"We have discussed the name change in our offices. It is still premature at this time,” RIAC president and CEO Iftikhar Ahmad responded in an email to an inquiry.