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City removes ‘international’ from airport name

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Changing the name of the Air Center is being done for marketing and clarity purposes, city staff say. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Staff members prefer Roswell Air Center or ROW

The Roswell airfield officially has a new name.

The city has dropped the word “international” from its moniker, so the name is changing from Roswell International Air Center to Roswell Air Center.

The transition is for marketing and clarity purposes, according to Mark Bleth, Air Center manager and deputy director, who joined the city staff in August 2018.

“When I came here a year ago, this name was unusually large for this type of facility, and, the fact of the matter is, us not having any international flights, there have been no international flights since 2006. Now I know there is some nostalgia with us having that name. It sounds important, but the reality is, it is misleading. If you don’t have customs, we are not an international airport.”

The Roswell City Council voted 9-1 to approve the change at its Thursday meeting, with the full council’s vote coming after the staff recommendation had been vetted by the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission and the Legal Committee.

Bleth said that the city will discourage use of such terms as “old airbase” or RAC when talking about the airport and its related properties.

Instead, the city will adopt either Air Center, as it prefers, or, if using an acronym, ROW, the identifier used by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We will be ROW, as we are seen by every pilot in the world,” Bleth said. “That is our acronym for the Air Center by the FAA standards.”

Some signage for the Air Center developed by the city already has deleted the word “international,” which occurred as the city rolled out its new branding and marketing campaign.

Juanita Jennings, director of Public Affairs for the city, said she supported the decision of Bleth and Air Center Director Scott Stark, who have previously said that signage and marketing materials will be updated with the new name as needed and as opportunities arise.

“Something shorter is simpler and better,” Jennings said. “You think of Nike, McDonald’s and Starbucks and IBM and Apple. It is kind of the same trend that we are going to try to do with ROW.”

She added that identifying the center as ROW will be similar to how the Denver International Airport is often referred to as DEN.

Councilor Judy Stubbs explained that she was part of the City Council in 2004 when it changed the name of the Air Center from Roswell Industrial Air Center to Roswell International Air Center because it had added a customs agent and a free trade zone, which allows businesses to import or export goods to other countries without paying customs fees in many instances.

Councilor Steve Henderson said he, Stubbs and others with the city worked hard to establish the free trade zone, but that the business community did not utilize the opportunity and the zone was discontinued.

Bleth said that nothing about the name change would deter the Air Center from adding customs, international flights or trade zones in the future.

Councilor Angela Moore, who said she has lived in the Air Center area for 30 years, voted against the action.

She said she thought that confusion could result because people in Roswell often refer to the Roswell Adult Center as RAC.

“You are going to say ROW,” she said, “but everyone else will say RAC.”

She added in a joking manner, “Why couldn’t we call it Roswell Intergalactical?”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.