Youngstown-Warren officials think change could help land more business
By Ed Runyan
Juliet said to Romeo in the Shakespeare play: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
But when it comes to small airports, a name change could be the thing that attracts the interest and curiosity of the flying public, airport officials say.
When the Harrison/Marion Regional Airport changed its name to Central West Virginia Regional Airport, air traffic tripled, said Dan Dickten, director of aviation at the Youngstown- Warren Regional Airport.
People also took to the name change from Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton International Airport to Lehigh Valley International Airport, said Tom Reich, a Washington, D.C., airline consultant.
Dickten has aggressively marketed the Youngstown-Warren airport to regional airlines since last year and continues to believe that one of them eventually will begin service here. Officials have suggested that daily air service would give a boost to the quality of life and economy of the region.
Like any business hoping to get an edge on the competition, the local airport might get the extra help it needs by changing its name, Dickten said.
What most airlines think of when they hear Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is “a facility that lost daily commercial airline service in 2003,” Dickten said.
Dickten has proposed several possible new names but admits he’s not sure anyone has hit on the best one yet. He believes it might help to open up the question to the public.
Among the suggestions so far are Mahoning Valley Regional Airport, Northeast Ohio Regional Airport, Ohio-Penn Regional Airport, and Western Reserve Regional Airport.
Those names might better represent this part of eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania and project a more-progressive and airline-friendly image, Dickten said.
Western Reserve Regional Airport includes the Ohio and Pennsylvania counties, Dickten points out, but many people outside of the region don’t understand the Western Reserve reference.
Reich, who works for Youngstown-Warren Regional under a contract, said the Youngstown-Warren “brand” has been tarnished, “and any brand that has been tarnished doesn’t sell as well.”
But local officials can “reset people’s mindset” with some new branding, Reich said.
The goal is to have a name that makes people outside the area say, “‘That sounds interesting. I want to learn about that,’” Reich said. “With Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, they say, ‘I know all I need to know about that.’ That’s basic Marketing 101.”
In recent months, airport officials learned that a resolution passed by Youngstown City Council in 1992 said the facility would “forever be named Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.”
So, Dickten wrote a letter to Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone earlier this month and plans to meet with him this week to discuss it further.
Sammarone said Friday he will consult with the city’s attorneys to determine whether the resolution needs to be rescinded to allow the name change.
Either way, Sammarone said he doesn’t think the city will stand in the way of changing the name.
“To me, the name of the airport isn’t that important,” Sammarone said. “The important thing is that the airport is a success. If changing the name will make it a success, I have no problem.”
Pat Ungaro, Liberty Township administrator, was Youngstown mayor when the airport left the control of the city of Youngstown in 1992 and came under the control of the newly created Western Reserve Port Authority. Sammarone was a member of Youngstown City Council at the time of the change.
Both men said they don’t know why the city council resolution insisted that the Youngstown-Warren name be used “forever.”