The name “Central North Carolina International Airport” didn’t last long – 23 days to be exact.
Central North Carolina International Airport became the name of Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) on Jan. 1 after the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, the seven-member board that runs the airport, voted in December to change the name effective Jan. 1.
However, at the authority’s Tuesday, Jan. 23 meeting – after a month of citizens expressing a great deal of opposition to the new name – the Airport Authority voted to defer the name change until an undesignated future date and to open up the discussion to other names.
Airport Authority members were quick to point out that the airport name may still very well end up as Central North Carolina International. However, given the public feedback of the last month, the authority decided to delay any implementation of a new name and open up the discussion to the public. Several authority members said after the meeting that the authority is open to suggestions for new airport names – especially ones that emphasize the “geographical” aspect of the location and signify that the airport is in North Carolina.
Authority members have stated that one major problem with the “Piedmont Triad” nomenclature is that many around the country and around the world see the name and have no idea where the airport or the surrounding community is located.
Authority members also say that state and economic development officials believe a name change – such as to “Central North Carolina International Airport” or something along those lines – would aid business recruitment efforts in this region since it would let people know where the airport is. They say “North Carolina” is a powerful brand right now.
The Airport Authority allocates time at the start of every meeting for public speakers on airport related matters, but rarely does anyone speak. However, at the Jan. 23 meeting, Nicky Smith, a Greensboro businessman who had begun an online petition protesting the name change, spoke and told the authority members that he had over 6,000 signers who objected to the change. Smith said one theme he’d seen over and over again in people’s comments is that the current name isn’t broken and therefore it’s completely unnecessary to go to the time, trouble and expense to change it.
Airport Authority Chairman Steve Showfety said he appreciated Smith’s input as well as others and he invited Smith to lunch to discuss the issue. Showfety said he hoped a lunch discussion might clear up some issues regarding the airport and the name change. Smith said he would be glad to have lunch and discuss the matter with Showfety.
One point Airport Authority members stressed at the meeting is that the airport is “self-funded” in that it doesn’t get money from local governments such as Guilford County or the cities of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem; therefore, any cost for the name change would not, for instance, affect local property taxes.
Airport Authority Member Allen Joines, the mayor of Winston-Salem who made the original December motion to change the name to Central North Carolina International Airport, also read the new motion at the Jan. 23 meeting. Before he did, he noted the public’s reaction to the airport name change.
“There was considerable interest and concern about the particular name change, primarily about the opportunity for public input,” Joines said before he read the new motion that the authority adopted unanimously.
The motion that Joines read had three parts: “1. The Authority hereby defers the effective date of the proposed name change until after the branding process is complete. 2. That branding process will formally include the opportunity for the public to participate by offering comments as well as alternative suggestions. 3. Until said branding process is completed, the PTI name and all other related references will remain unchanged.”
When the third part of that motion was read, there was some applause from those who didn’t approve of the name change.
Showfety said after the motion that airport officials welcomed public input in this process.
“If we hear better ideas, we will certainly entertain those,” Showfety said.