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Logan International won't fight Manchester Airport name change

BOSTON --Saying imitation is the highest form of flattery, the manager of Boston's Logan International Airport said Wednesday he would not fight Manchester Airport's name change to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport -- a switch made even though the airfield is in another state 60 miles away.

"We're pleased people are so anxious to affiliate themselves with Boston," Craig Coy, chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority said.

In fact, Coy said he would support Worcester city officials if they decide to take the recent advice of a consultant and add "Boston" to the name of Worcester Regional Airport, which is also managed by Massport.

Worcester Councilor-at-Large Joseph M. Petty, chairman of the City Council Public Service and Transportation Committee, said Wednesday night he would like City Manager Michael V. OBrien to recommend that Worcester Regional Airport change its name to include Boston.

Petty said the change would put Worcester on the radar screen of more air travelers, and make the city's airport an attractive alternative to Logan International Airport.

Coy's comments came a few hours after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he considered the New Hampshire airport's name change an effort to capitalize on his city's good name.

Calls to the main switchboard were answered, "Manchester-Boston Regional Airport" on Wednesday, the day after the Manchester City Council voted in favor of the name change.

The airport's director, Kevin Dillon, sought the switch, hoping to promote Manchester as a no-hassle travel alternative that's relatively close to Logan.

Dillon also said the region's airports need to do more to ease Logan's runway congestion and flight delays by shifting more traffic to smaller airfields. A $4.4 billion expansion and modernization program at Logan has eased problems, but not eliminated them, Dillon said.

Meanwhile, surveys indicate Manchester's airport suffers a lack of name recognition, particularly among customers who buy tickets online and live outside New England, Dillon said.

"It's a national marketing issue that leads us to do this," Dillon said in a phone interview.

Manchester had 4.3 million passengers last year, up 8 percent from the previous year. But this year, airlines' cost-cutting efforts threaten to reduce the airport's passenger traffic for the first time in five years, Dillon said.

Logan handled more than six times as many passengers as Manchester last year, with 27 million -- a figure Coy doubts will be reduced this year by Manchester's new name.

Rather than fighting in court to prevent Manchester's name switch, Coy said Logan should cooperate with Manchester and two other airports that are roughly an hour's drive from Boston: Worcester, and T.F. Green in Warwick, outside Providence, R.I.

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery," he said. "We think that this is reflective of not only the great work that Logan has done in making itself a modern airport, but it's also about the regionalization of airports."

Airports featuring relatively distant, out-of-state cities in their names are nothing new -- two examples include Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Menino said during an interview with Boston radio station WBZ-AM that he believed the Manchester airport was trying to use Boston's name to boost declining passenger traffic.

"Once again, another municipality used the good name of Boston to promote themselves," said Menino. "Flattery will get you nowhere."

Coy said he spoke with Menino after the radio interview.

"I think the mayor and I are in agreement," Coy said. "He was, I'm sure, poking a little fun at Manchester."

Phone messages left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Menino's office were not returned.

The Worcester City Council and a city airport commission are studying a consultant's report issued in November that recommended Worcester Regional Airport add Boston to its name, said Julie Jacobson, an assistant city manager. While Massport manages the Worcester airport -- along with Logan, and Hanscom Field in Bedford -- it is owned by the city.

Coy said he wouldn't be surprised if T.F. Green Airport also decides someday to incorporate Boston into its name. An airport spokeswoman said no such name change was in the works.

Boston "is an important market for us, but we definitely have no plans to change our name," airport spokeswoman Patti Goldstein said. "People do know where we are."

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On the Net:

Manchester-Boston Regional Airport: http://www.flymanchester.com

Logan International Airport: http://www.massport.com/logan/

Worcester Regional Airport: http://www.flyworcester.com

T.F. Green Airport: http://www.pvdairport.com

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