Updated February 24, 2021 - 6:03 pm
The decision to rename Las Vegas’ airport to Harry Reid International Airport is garnering national support.
National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi issued a statement Wednesday backing the Clark County Commission’s unanimous decision last week to rename McCarran International Airport after the former Nevada senator.
“We strongly support this decision. Harry Reid International Airport is a most fitting tribute to a leader who, for 30 years, was a strong supporter of aviation both in Nevada and across the nation,” Rinaldi said in a statement. “During Reid’s time in office, air travel became safer and expanded to power our country’s economy like never before. We thank the Clark County Commission for its vote, and we look forward to the Federal Aviation Administration completing the process necessary to make this change official.”
NATCA represents over 20,000 aviation safety professionals nationwide.
As a next step in the renaming, Clark County Department of Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis needs to send a letter to the FAA formally requesting the change with the minutes from the commission meeting where it was voted on.
Those minutes won’t be approved by the County Commission until its March 16 meeting, so the formal request won’t occur until at least mid-March.
The FAA will review the request and make any updates on its end to ensure a smooth transition during and after the renaming process.
McCarran officials must tabulate the cost of the name change, which is estimated to be $5 million to $7 million, and the funds to pay for it must be raised before any updating to the airport begins. No taxpayer money is to be used for the renaming.
There is no time frame on how long the entire process will take, but Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has said it’s likely to take years to carry out.
NATCA’s letter noted improvements tied to the transportation industry that were completed during Reid’s time as a senator, including ones in the Silver State.
“By the time Senator Reid retired in 2017, Las Vegas had the sixth-busiest air traffic control tower in the country, handling nearly 600,000 operations each year and nearly 50 million passengers,” Rinaldi wrote. “With Senator Reid in office, new air traffic control towers at LAS (McCarran) and Reno (RNO) were constructed to accommodate increased levels of traffic and improve safety, along with a new Las Vegas Terminal Radar Approach Control facility that handles radar traffic control in the Las Vegas area.”
“We extend our congratulations to Senator Reid on this great honor. It is richly deserved.”