Last night, a terrible, terrible thing happened here in Manchester. The city’s aldermen succumbed to the siren call of the marketing geniuses and renamed our airport from Manchester Airport to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
I’ve flown out of Manchester several times (and always returned), and it’s a very nice airport. It’s relatively easy to get into and out of, the terminal is just the right size, and it’s clean and convenient. Contrast that with Logan International Airport, Boston’s big one, and it’s no wonder a lot of people fly into and out of Manchester — about an hour north — instead of risking life, limb, and icky liberal cooties by going into Beantown.
Over the last year, though, daily flights out of MHT have dropped off a little, from an average of 100 to 80. The marketing geniuses did some polling, and it turned out that a whole bunch of people didn’t know that Manchester is about an hour from Boston — or that we even exist. They figured that if they tacked on Boston’s name, it might help bring more travelers in.
Logan officials were not pleased. They say that it’s not right for an airport to use the name of a city over 50 miles away. A spokesman for Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino said “”Manchester is a lot of things, but it ain’t Boston. This is a bizarre case of the freeloader effect gone awry.” (Mayor Mumbles also had a statement, but no one could understand what the hell he was saying, as usual.) And Massport spokesman Danny Levy had the best line of all: “”If the people will not go to Manchester, then I guess Manchester must come to Boston.”
I can understand the desire to get more traffic into Manchester Airport. But hitching on to Boston is going too far. It’s bad enough we get boned on highway funds (southern NH is considered part of “Greater Boston” by the Department of Transportation, and Massachusetts’ congressional delegation makes damned sure that their state gets the lion’s share of money allocated for that area, leaving us with the scraps — IF we’re lucky) and we have to live with the refugees who flee the Bay State (most are fine, but way too many leave Massachusetts because they can’t stand the political, economic, and tax climate, then promptly try to re-create the very same here). Changing the name of our airport like this is just beyond the pale. It’s declaring a giant inferiority complex, trying to hitch our wagon to them. Manchester Airport is OURS, dammit, and we shouldn’t be giving it away.
Besides, if they’re so damned set on changing the name, I got a couple of possibilities. Astronaut Alan Shepard, the first man in space, hailed from Warren, New Hampshire and got his flight training there. And the airport was originally Grenier Field, named after Manchester resident and UNH graduate Jean D. Grenier, an Army Air Force pilot killed in a crash in Utah in 1934. Either man would have been a fine choice for the honor.
But not Boston. Please, anything but Boston.