airport terminal

Wichita Mid-Continent Airport really likes Ike

Wichita Airport - new terminal rendering. Courtesy of the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport

A new terminal built for the airport in Wichita will open in Spring 2015. Courtesy Wichita Mid-Continent Airport


History buffs and frequent travelers know there are U.S. airports named for Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Soon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the nation’s 34th president, will have an airport named in his honor too.

In response to a local petition campaign that gained support from city commissioners in Abilene, Kansas, home of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood home , the Wichita City Council voted last week to change the name of the city’s Mid-Continent Airport to the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.

The resolution moves now to the Wichita Airport Authority, which will vote on the name change in early April.

“The authority board members are the same as the city council members,” said Victor White, Executive Director of Airports at the Wichita Airport Authority, “so we expect it to go through and a formal document sent to the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Once FAA approval is secured, the name change could become effective around March 2015, when a new $200 million terminal and parking project to serve the airport’s 1.5 million annual passengers is complete.

The airports’ identifying code, ICT, would remain the same as IKE already belongs to Ikerasak Heliport in Greenland.

“Only a handful of airports are named after former presidents and this would put us in a unique group,” said White. And while “renaming serves the wonderful purpose of recognizing the only president raised in Kansas, it’s a lot of work and could end up costing several hundred thousand dollars to do.”

While the airport authority would not have to pay for replacing highway signs off airport property, it would have to pay to replace marketing materials that bear the airport’s current name and purchase other items such as new uniforms and decals for airport vehicles.

A statue of Eisenhower and a display telling his life story might be paid for by donations or corporate sponsors, said White, but there will be also be expenses associated with a new logo and a new image campaign.

The airport’s current tag line – “Convenient. Friendly. Affordable” – will also be changed, perhaps to something that takes a cue from the “I Like Ike” tag line popular from the 1952 presidential campaign and referenced often by supporters of the airport name-change.

“Our marketing firm is chomping at the bit,” said White. “So I’m sure we’ll have some fun with that.”

Wichita - old airport sign

This signage was removed to make way for the new terminal.


Rebranding the airport will cost money, but it could also boost the airport’s bottom line, said Neal Burns, director of the Center for Brand Research at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Airports are essentially businesses,” he said. “One of things you have to hope is that the airport will be viewed more favorably and have more esteem nationally and internationally and be able to charge more for advertising space on the walls.”

CNA Sign


As it works through the name-change process, the Wichita Airport Authority has been getting helpful advice from the staff at Arkansas’ Little Rock National Airport, which last year was officially renamed to honor former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, who served as a senator and secretary of state.

“We shared with the Wichita staff our experience in working with the FAA to file the necessary paperwork to process the name change and how we created our new brand,” said Shane Carter, spokesman for the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Little Rock is home to the Clinton Presidential Center and is now Arkansas’ No. 1 attraction for out-of-state visitors. Since plans for the center were announced approximately $2.5 billion in economic development has been invested in downtown Little Rock, said Carter.

The Little Rock airport was completing a $67 million construction initiative when the renaming occurred and so the expense for new signage was budgeted into the project.

“New stationery, interior signage and uniforms were ordered as needed,” said Carter, “and the airport is also working with the Clinton Foundation to produce two exhibits to be located inside the airport.”

Atlanta Airport – and others – get bigger

The world’s busiest passenger airport is getting bigger.

Today, May 16, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport opens the new $1.4 billion Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal, named in honor of the city’s first black mayor.

“The opening of the international terminal is huge for Atlanta,” said the airport’s Aviation General Manager Louis Miller. “It gives international passengers their own terminal with its own entrance, it ends the baggage recheck process for Atlanta–bound passengers, and it enhances the airport’s overall capacity now and for the future.”

The opening of Atlanta airport’s new terminal comes on the heels of some other high-profile — and pricey — terminal openings in 2011, most notably San Francisco International Airport’s $388 million renovated Terminal 2 in April and Sacramento International Airport’s $1 billion new terminal in October.

The airport upgrades don’t stop there. Here are six more projects you may spy next time you fly:

Las Vegas

On June 27, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas will open “T3,” a new high-tech, $2.4 billion terminal that will serve both international and domestic flights.

“Our plans for T3 include self-boarding podiums at all 14 gates, self-service kiosks equipped for customers to print and affix their own baggage tags, and a robust [free] wireless Internet system that will extend out to the ramp and allow customers to log on whether they’re inside the terminal or aboard an aircraft parked at the gate,” said Randall H. Walker, director for the Clark County Department of Aviation.


This summer, Miami International Airport will open a new federal inspection area at the North Terminal that is twice the size of the existing Concourse E facility. In early 2013, the airport hopes to have the entire multibillion dollar North Terminal project completed. “What remains to be opened are three passenger gates and five of the 10 baggage claim carousels in the international arrivals area,” said Greg Chin, communications director for the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department.

A new AirportLink Metrorail extension that will speed connections to downtown Miami is also being built.

San Diego

San Diego International Airport is halfway through a $1 billion sustainable “Green Build” expansion of its Terminal 2 that is scheduled to be completed in August 2013.

“When complete, Terminal 2 will have 10 new gates, a dual-level roadway to separate arriving and departing passengers, a large, bright concessions core and the largest airport USO in the world,” said Katie Jones, spokesperson for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles International Airport
is building a new $1.5 billion Tom Bradley International Terminal, which will include new concourse areas and gates that will be able to accommodate the superjumbo Airbus A380 airplanes.
Renovations and upgrades are also underway throughout the rest of the airport.

New York

And in New York, Delta Air Lines is spending more than $160 million to renovate Terminals C and D at LaGuardia Airport and more than $1.2 billion on John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 4. The LaGuardia project may be completed by the end of 2013; the JFK project, by spring 2013.

That’s a lot of airport-upgrade activity at a time when the economy remains skittish, fuel prices are still sky-high and airlines continue to scale back schedules.

“Airports are investing in modern infrastructure to ensure that their communities, and the companies in them, can successfully compete in an increasingly global economy,” said Greg Principato, president of Airports Council International -North America, an airport membership organization. “These facilities are an investment in our economic future.”

(My story about airport upgrades first appeared on