WINDSOR LOCKS – The name of state’s largest aviation complex, Bradley International Airport, will continue to honor a military aviator who died in a training accident a few months before the United States was drawn into World War II, as well as to salute all veterans.
The Connecticut Airport Authority tabled consideration of a potential name change – ostensibly to better reflect its geographic location – during its meeting Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel at Bradley International.
There was a desire expressed to revise the airport’s name to improve its marketability, according to Executive Director Kevin Dillon, but there also were practical aspects of such a change to be considered, such as the modifications other airports and airlines would have to make.
At some airports, the name “Hartford” is used instead of Bradley to designate the destination.
CAA took over management of the airport seven years ago and has posted passenger gains each year, totaling nearly 7 million last year. It currently serves nine airlines.
Board Chairman Thomas A. “Tony” Sheridan said he would like to see the name become Connecticut International Airport.
However, Sheridan backed tabling the topic, noting that it raises a lot of concerns and CAA “has other issues on our plate.”
Another concern was the opposition of veteran groups and the military, who see the designation as an honor to all veterans, Dillon said.
Bradley is named after Eugene M. Bradley, a second lieutenant from Oklahoma who died in a 1941 dogfighting exercise at what was then called Windsor Locks Army Air Base.
The airfield began civilian use in 1947 as Bradley International Airport.
The state has considered renaming Bradley several times through the years based on the thought that adding Connecticut, Hartford, or Springfield to the airport’s title might help boost visibility and identification beyond the Northeast and internationally.
In the early 1980s there was interest in renaming the airport for former Governor Ella Grasso, who died in 1981. However, war veterans and Grasso’s widower opposed the change.
The renaming was among the goals eyed for 2019 as part of a focus on making Bradley more attractive as a gateway to the region.
“Sometimes it’s called Hartford/Springfield,” Sheridan said last January. “One of the concerns all airports have is being easy to identify. You probably don’t have many people in Europe who know where Bradley is, but maybe more know where Hartford is.”
Most of the nation’s busiest airports, except for O’Hare (Chicago) and JFK (New York), include the primary city served in their name or three letter code. For example, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the world’s busiest aviation hub with 107 million passengers in 2018. It is also Georgia’s largest employer, providing 63,000 jobs.
Port Authority and OPM
The CAA board also will respond to a memorandum of understanding regarding the administrative relationship between the authority, the Connecticut Port Authority, and the state Office of Policy and Management.
Currently, the CAA provides advice and help with administrative matters and works with the Connecticut Port Authority board. Dillon said he expects this to be a short-term relationship, adding that it will be up to Gov. Ned Lamont and the General Assembly to make decisions about the CAA’s future relationship with the Connecticut Port Authority.
Energy Usage, Passenger & Cargo Growth in 2019
The CAA is developing a sustainability program directed at energy-use reduction and alternative fuels.
“In the next 60 days we should understand what we are targeting,” Dillon said, adding that the program will be implemented first for Airport Authority operations and then introduced to tenants.
Some pieces of the project are in place already. One involves a process of reviewing requests for new vehicles, in which the policy is to procure electric vehicles unless a specific request demonstrates a reason to purchase a non-electric vehicle instead, Dillon said.
For 2019, Bradley International not only increased passengers served by 1.2%, but the airport also saw a 24.5% increase in cargo handled, Dillon reported. He said Bradley handled a total of 255 million pounds of cargo in 2019.
At Hartford-Brainard Airport, the CAA is looking to replace the Flying Monkey Grill and Bar which, Dillon said, closed in December and moved to Newington.
The board also said it had evaluated Dillon’s performance as executive director in 2019 and found it highly successful, board member Robert Aaronson said. It will be up to the chairman and human resources to decide any change in compensation, he said.