T.F. Green Airport

Make it easier to get to Hollywood

Terminal lobby at T.F. Green Airport, which serves southeastern New England.

Terminal lobby at T.F. Green Airport, which serves southeastern New England.

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com

Greater Providence has long been hurt by the absence of direct flights to the West Coast from T.F. Green Airport (although there are a few direct flights to Europe). That is especially true for sectors connected with media and tech. Consider Pawtucket-based Hasbro, which has long since become an entertainment business rather than just a toy company. So its creative and executive people need to go back and forth a lot to Los Angeles. L.A. and New York are the media and entertainment capitals. No wonder that Hasbro is reportedly considering moving its headquarters to one of those two cities. Or it might settle for downtown Providence, especially because the Rhode Island School of Design is there.

The Providence area has many animators, filmmakers, illustrators, graphic designers and so on. Many have work that may take them often to and from the West Coast.

And many southern New England companies need to keep connected with the tech hubs of Silicon Valley, in the San Jose/San Francisco area, and Seattle.

Now that T.F. Green Airport’s main runway has been extended, non-stop service to the West Coast is feasible, offering a way to avoid the frustrating congestion you must go through to get to and from Boston’s Logan Airport.

Some see Sun Country Airlines’ announcement that it will start service this spring from Green to Nashville and Minneapolis-St. Paul as an interim step toward those direct flights. The airline has numerous flights from its Minnesota base to the West Coast. Let’s hope that Hasbro, etc., persuades the airline to start non-stop flights from Rhode Island to the West Coast as soon as possible.

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“Creative types’’ want to be near creative types. Thus it’s not surprising that the growing Alex and Ani jewelry company is moving from Cranston to downtown Providence, not coincidentally next to the Rhode Island School of Design (which has produced many jewelry designers) and in a neighborhood crowded with Millennials. Sort of like Amazon setting up new headquarters in New York City and Arlington, Va., right across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.

Alex and Ani is opening new stores on the West Coast, which should encourage the company to join Hasbro, et al., in lobbying for nonstop flights from Green to the West Coast.

Whining Uberites & Lyftites

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Adapted from Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in GoLocal24.com:

The complaints from car-hailing services and their passengers about the $6 pickup fee at T.F. Green Airport, in Warwick, R.I., ring hollow to me. Jim Hummel wrote about this in a good Jan. 28 Providence Journal story, “Driving revenue: Price of arrival rises at T.F. Green’’. All users should help pay for the airport, which has been much improved in recent years. Uber and Lyft have taken away some of the airport’s revenue from rental cars and taxis. It’s generally cheaper to take a car-hailing service than a ca b. Further, many airports charge to drop off and pick up passengers.

As usual, people want more services but lower charges. Take the federal gasoline tax. It was last raised in 1993! No wonder the roads are such a mess. And while Trump talks about improving transportation infrastructure, he got Congress to enact a huge tax cut, mostly for business and the rich. America remains a fiscal Fantasyland.

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 GoLocal24.com:

“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.

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It can only help that MeetingSource.com 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.

 

Happy travel news

Kudos to the Raimondo administration  and others involved in bringing Norwegian Airlines to T.F. Green Airport! The Federal Aviation Administration and others have long wanted Green to offer regular international flights, to, among other things, reduce congestion at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Certainly southeastern New England has the population density to support a major international airport.

The extension of the main runway to 8,700 feet due to be completed at year’s end should draw more international airlines since the longer runway means very long-haul airlines can use it.  Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut business should study how they can best benefit from Green’s expanded role in international travel.

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In other happy travel news:

Gov. Charlie Baker is now looking again at closing the broken, one-mile link in the Northeast rail corridor between South and North stations in  downtown Boston that prevents connectivity between commuter rail systems and interrupts Amtrak service. I hope that he sees this as a priority. Closing the link would ultimately help most New Englanders. This was a dream of former Gov. Michael Dukakis, but fiscal and political pressures blocked the way.