LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission voted unanimously today to rename Little Rock National Airport in honor of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Effective immediately, airport staff will begin working with the Federal Aviation Administration to change the name to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. However, the long-standing name - Adams Field - will remain when referring to the airport's runways and air traffic, as will the airport's official designator, KLIT.
The Commission cited the many contributions President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made to Arkansas through more than three decades of service to the state and nation as its reason to rename the airport. The name change coincides with the airport's 2020 Vision Plan, which is a major construction initiative currently underway.
"Bill and Hillary Clinton not only devoted years of service to Arkansas, but have served the nation as a two-term President, and as First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State - that's a legacy of which all Arkansans can be proud," said Jim Dailey, chairman of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission. "The Clintons continue to have a major impact on our state and our local economy, and we believe renaming our airport in their honor is a fitting way to recognize their service and their position in Arkansas and our nation's history."
Although the name is changing, Adams Field - the name for the airport's aeronautical operations - will remain the same. Adams Field is named in honor of Captain George Geyer Adams, 154th Observation Squadron, Arkansas National Guard, who was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 4, 1937. During his long tenure with the Little Rock City Council, Captain Adams was instrumental in promoting the airport's growth.
Commissioners also noted the success of the Clinton Presidential Center and the many visitors who travel through the airport to visit the center, which is Arkansas' No. 1 attraction for out-of-state visitors, drawing more than 2.5 million people since opening in 2004. Approximately $2.5 billion in economic development in downtown Little Rock has occurred since President Clinton announced his plans for the center, according to Downtown Little Rock Partnership.
"The Clinton Presidential Center and Clinton Foundation have been huge assets as we work to attract visitors to our city," said Gretchen Hall, president and chief executive officer of Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Many people already associate Little Rock and Arkansas with the Clintons, and naming the airport in their honor gives the facility an identity that will be instantly recognized nationally and internationally."
Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport will join other high-profile airports named after former presidents and other public figures/notable leaders. These include Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield, Ill.; John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City; Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C.; George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas; Dickinson Theodor Roosevelt Regional Airport in Dickinson, N.D.; Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.; Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport in San Jose, Calif; and Baltimore International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Md.
In the coming months, new branding and signage will appear at the airport highlighting the new name. Currently, the airport is undergoing construction of Phase 1 of the 2020 Vision Plan, which includes extensive upgrades to the ticketing lobby and baggage screening area, which will house a new, state-of-the-art in-line baggage handling system that keeps all screening equipment away from passenger areas. The $67 million, initial improvements will be completed in February 2013.
A secondary, larger phase of the 2020 Vision Plan is planned to occur over the next several years to include construction of a new terminal commons, a new 16-gate concourse, new baggage claim area, international arrival facility, inbound roadway and parking improvements. Once all construction is completed, the airport is destined to become an international airport.
(Source: Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport)