July 10, 2008

Airport Name Can Be Coastal Carolina Regional Airport

By Nikie Mayo, Sun Journal, New Bern, N.C.

Jul. 10--Coastal Carolina Regional Airport can now replace the name for Craven County Regional Airport.

The local bill requested by the Airport Authority and Craven County Board of Commissioners to allow the new name was ratified Tuesday by the N.C. General Assembly, said Rep. William Wainwright.

"We are quite pleased," said Jim Creech, Airport Authority chairman. "We think it is a big move because we recognize that Craven County, which we love and know is responsible for the airport, would not be well known by travelers outside this area.

"It is a marketing thing," Creech said. "It becomes something more inclusive because it involves Craven County and our sister counties who contribute some 60 percent of our enplanements."

Authority member Bill Naumann said the upcoming name change "is more than just a gesture. It is a change in the way we think about the people we serve and a significant move toward supporting regionalism."

Airport Director Tom Braaten said one administrative task remains before the authority can actually change its letterhead. The authority will discuss timing of the change at its Tuesday meeting.

Naumann said the process of "enrollment," or securing some additional signatures and the name change being recorded, will probably be done by Tuesday.

"We will discuss a date around which we want to make the change after we have an opportunity to reach out and include some representatives of other counties," Naumann said. "My guess is early August."

The local bill actually passed last Thursday, said Wainwright, but was sent back to make a technical wording change to call some members non-voting, rather than ex-officio, members.

The new law adds non-voting members from Pamlico, Jones, and Carteret counties. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point also continues to have a non-voting member on the new authority.

The name of the governing authority will change to Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Authority. There are no changes to official functions of the board, which was expanded in 2005 to include three new members from the business community.

The airport with Federal Aviation Administration call letters EWN began as a military airfield but has served commercial customers for 77 years, beginning as Simmons-Nott Airport. It became a totally Craven County-owned facility in 1989 and opened a new commercial terminal in 1999.

Marketing efforts over the past three years have attempted to get better exposure for and service to the airport.

Daily commercial carrier flights by U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines now serve the region. A recent AAA report lists the airport as having the most on-time flights of any airport in the state.

The airport authority spent nearly $4 million for two large tracts of farmland abutting the airfield to protect against encroachment and asked Craven County to establish county zoning in the area to further protect its future.

The airport authority also supported an improved facility for private and corporate aircraft using the fixed base operation, asking the county to extend its lease to allow Tidewater Aviation to realize returns from its investment.

A ribbon-cutting for the new General Aviation Terminal is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today (Thursday) at 1210 Aviation Drive off Williams Road.


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