Make a better airport with the same name

In the T.F. Green Airport terminal.

In the T.F. Green Airport terminal.

From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

“Bad luck…always pursues people who change the names of their cities. Fortune is rightly malignant to those who break with the traditions and customs of the past….’’

-- Winston Churchill

The recent belated but much appreciated growth of T.F. Green Airport into a real international airport has been very happy news for southeastern New England. But this has led Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian to suggest  to The Providence Journal that the airport be renamed “Warwick International Airport’’  or, perhaps, “Rhode Island International Airport’’.   

Bad ideas. Yes, the airport is in Warwick but Warwick is part of the two-state Metro Providence area. Most U.S. travelers outside New England have heard of Providence, R.I. ; few have heard of Warwick. And the airport not only serves the Ocean State but also large parts of Massachusetts as well as a slice of eastern Connecticut. (Of course, too many people get Providence mixed up with another quaint and quirky place – Provincetown – and even get “Rhode Island’’ mixed up with its neighbor “Long Island.’’)

In any case, the Green name should be kept. The airport is named after the late Rhode Island governor and then U.S. senator Theodore Francis Green (1867-1966!), who was a big public infrastructure proponent, from the WPA on. The appropriate new name for the airport would be “T.F. Green International Airport.’’  The name of Boston’s main airport – Logan International Airport – doesn’t include “Boston,’’ but that hasn’t caused any trouble that I know of.  And few can identify Edward Lawrence Logan (1875-1939, a general and Massachusetts politician),  after whom the huge facility is named. But that doesn’t matter. Name changes are generally not worth the confusion they cause.

I get a chuckle out of Mayor Avedisian’s desire to promote Warwick’s connection with the improved airport because he had long  helped to put roadblocks in the way of extending the runway at Green to permit non-stop flights to the West Coast and  into all of Western and Central Europe. He was responding to a small but very vocal group of people living near Green who didn’t want more airport noise and traffic and/or wanted more money from the state for their houses to be taken by eminent domain in order to allow for the very overdue longer runway. Hypocrisy makes the world go round!

Business travelers in particular have for decades sought those  longer flights out of Green. With the runway extension finally completed last fall, I trust that we’ll get them soon. The FAA, for one, would like them  in order to reduce congestion at Logan.

Meanwhile, let’s praise the fine work of airport chief Iftikhar Ahmad and his staff in building up Green.


It can only help that has ranked the Providence-Warwick area as one of the best mid-sized cities in America to host a convention. However, presumably using pre-runway-extension considerations, it complained about an inadequate number of direct flights in and out of Green.  We hope that will no longer apply in a year, as Mr. Ahmad and his colleagues continue to promote the airport’s charms and conveniences.