July 31 – Last week, the Washington County Commissioners heard a presentation about the possibility of changing the name of the Hagerstown Airport.
It seems as though a lot of people don’t realize that commercial flights go out of that airport.
The consultant suggested changing the name to the Hagerstown Washington Regional Airport.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “They acknowledge this essentially has double meaning. Washington meaning Washington County and Washington DC. This study goes as far to say they want this Hagerstown Washington Regional Airport to be known as the fourth Regional Airport for the Washington DC metropolitan area.”
The commissioners did not vote either way on this during the meeting.
Barkdoll said, “It looks like it may be back on the agenda sometime in August for reconsideration. In looking at the minutes from the meeting, it clearly looks like one or two of the commissioners had some concerns about this. They were suggesting let’s just leave the name as it is. So it remains to be seen where this issue may get finalized.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I like that place. I like the airport. I like the aviation museum. It’s a massive piece of property. We’ve sat down with the management team out there. I like the new name. If that does make it to the finish line, when it does make it to the finish line, that makes a lot of sense.”
Barkdoll said, “There’s new logos for that name in this slide deck that are very slick, very sharp looking. The consultant points out for example, think of Sanford Florida. No one may fly just to Sanford Florida, but then when you hear it’s Sanford Orlando and they cite other examples like that around the country that has effectively boosted air traffic in these airports once they do the rebranding and that’s the thinking behind this. If they add Washington the name, it might get more recognition and add some more traffic, more traction to the overall operation?”
Jim Kercheval, executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee, said, “People want convenience. To get that you need riders. So I think the focus is to get our airport more on the map. Get people used to coming to our direction because Maryland tends to be a one-way, heading to Central Maryland type of state. Everybody thinks about going to Baltimore, Washington to where everything’s at, but hey, it’s okay to come west. We’ve got an airport. I mean, the service there’s phenomenal and the ease of getting on a plane is a fraction of what it is going to BWI or Dulles.”
More ridership could bring people into Hagerstown in the off season, too.
Kercheval said, “It’s a big thing when you’re doing a name change. We’re trying to get Central Maryland to think about coming west. People get confused about how far Hagerstown is from Washington, DC and Baltimore. They might think that’s a four or five, six hour trip.”
It could also be an opportunity going north into Pennsylvania.
Neil Doran, airport director, has been working on this for a while now.
Ryan said, “I like where he’s going with this.”
Kercheval agreed, “He’s a go-getter. He’s got a lot of drive. I think he’s going to do a lot to try to improve and get more of those flights. Those flights are critical for us because they helps qualify us for federal money that allows us to bring in millions of dollars to put into infrastructure over there. I know for Neil, keeping up with the runways and things like that, it’s really expensive and if you’re trying to expand or get certain land to develop around the airport and protect, you need that federal money to do that and it’s the commuter flights that help put us over a certain threshold and qualify us for that federal funding.”