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On Govt table: Plan to name, rename airports after cities, not people

The ministry also discussed the idea of renaming existing airports after cities but it is not clear whether a final decision has been arrived at in this regard.

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha

The government is considering a proposal to rename existing airports as well as future greenfield airports after cities and not personalities, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha has told The Indian Express.

He said the proposal of naming airports after cities is being examined by the government and a final view in this regard is expected be taken. “That matter is under investigation. We are evaluating how best to deal with that issue,” Sinha said when asked about the government’s view on naming airports after cities, instead of naming them after personalities.

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Sources said that internal deliberations have been held on this matter and a view has emerged that the names of airports should be only after cities. The ministry also discussed the idea of renaming existing airports after cities but it is not clear whether a final decision has been arrived at in this regard.

The ministry had last year examined the proposal to name the airports by the name of the city in which they are located. This was discussed in light of perceived inconvenience caused to passengers and foreign tourists who may not be familiar with Indian personalities.

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The government has so far not released any official policy in this regard. A set of policy guidelines with regard to naming of airports are likely to be finalised after these are cleared by the Union Cabinet. The terminals of the airports can be allowed to be named after eminent personalities, as suggested by the respective state governments, sources said.

Major airports in India have been named after personalities, for instance, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for Mumbai, Indira Gandhi International Airport for Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru.

Naming airports has been a tricky issue, as exemplified in the case of Chandigarh international airport in which Punjab and Haryana government own 24.5 per cent each while the remaining 51 per cent equity is held by the state-owned Airports Authority of India. The Punjab government had in 2009 proposed naming of Chandigarh airport as Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh International Airport, Mohali while the Haryana assembly, in 2009, passed a resolution that the new international airport be named Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport, Chandigarh.

Ignoring this resolution, the BJP government in Haryana sent a fresh proposal to the Centre on June 5, 2015, for naming the airport as Dr. Mangal Sein International Airport, Chandigarh. Sein was a former deputy chief minister of Haryana from 1977 to 1979 and a pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The naming of Chandigarh airport has been stuck due to lack of consensus among the two states. The civil aviation ministry has been discussing framing guidelines in this regard since last year.

Earlier, in reply to a query in Rajya Sabha on May 3, 2016 on the issue, former Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma had said: “Due to lack of any firm and explicit instructions/guidelines for naming/renaming of airports in the country and considering the convenience of the passengers in general and especially foreign tourists who are not familiar with the local history of the area, a view has emerged to name the airports by the name of the city in which they are located/served and the terminals of the airports after eminent personalities.”