IW civic group suggests new name for airport

Published 6:52 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Isle of Wight Citizens’ Association, a civic group that meets regularly in Carrollton, has suggested a different name be given to the City of Franklin’s airport than the one Franklin’s City Council agreed upon in January.

In January, Franklin’s City Council voted to adopt the name “Franklin Regional Airport” rather than the current “Franklin Municipal Airport” per a request from the city’s Airport Advisory Board last September, which had suggested rebranding the airport as a regional asset that serves not only Franklin but also Isle of Wight and Southampton counties.

However, on Monday, the Citizens’ Association voted unanimously in favor of a petition to be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration, which calls for the airport to be named the “Western Tidewater Regional Airport” instead. It states that this name is “much more inclusive and expansive than the current name and will best represent the economic interests of other, larger municipalities that this airport serves” including the city of Suffolk, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County.

The petition also states that the airport is not located within the city limits of Franklin, bur rather is entirely within the boundary of the Carrsville election district in Isle of Wight County.

Albert Burckard, vice president of the Citizens’ Association, said that while he has not yet located a specific point of contact within the FAA for submitting the group’s petition, he plans to present it to the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors at their next meeting on Thursday, March 21.

Franklin City Manager Amanda Jarratt said on Wednesday that she was aware of the Citizens’ Association’s petition.

“The City of Franklin is the sole owner of the airport facility,” Jarratt said. “Isle of Wight does not contribute to the operations or maintenance of the facility.”

As such, the city is considered to be the airport’s “sponsor.” The name change form used by the FAA and the Virginia Department of Aviation requires a signature on behalf of said sponsor, Jarratt explained.

“Based on that, I would say only the sponsor can make this request [of the FAA or VDOAV],” Jarratt said.

She added that the FAA and VDOAV have both already received the city’s original request to change the airport’s name to “Franklin Regional Airport,” and that neither has to approve the city’s request. The role of these agencies in the process is merely to implement the name change based on the request of the sponsor, she said. This involves changing maps and other state and federal publications, which may take some time to implement as these have varied publication dates.

Jarratt also confirmed that the city had reached out to Isle of Wight County’s government and the Town of Smithfield throughout its airport name change process.

“All involved felt that ‘Franklin Regional Airport’ was more inclusive than the previous name, ‘Franklin Municipal Airport,’” she said.