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County submits formal McCarran airport rename request to FAA

The process to rename McCarran International Airport after former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took its next step forward last week.

Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation, sent a letter requesting the name change and the minutes from the Feb. 16 Clark County Commission meeting to the Federal Aviation Administration on April 8.

“I respectfully ask the Phoenix Airports District Office to begin its review process to determine the effects of the proposed changes on safety, utilization and efficiency of this public-use airport,” Vassiliadis’ letter to the FAA read.

The FAA confirmed it received the formal rename request from the county, noting its role in the process is strictly bookkeeping.

“Changing an airport name is a local issue, and the FAA does not regulate airport name changes,” the FAA said in a statement. “However, the FAA must complete some administrative tasks before we officially recognize any name change. These include processing the name change to ensure proper tracking of federal grant-agreement obligations, revising documents including the Airport Certification Manual, and revising the Airport Master Record and air traffic control maps to reflect the name change.”

Although the FAA did not have a precise timeline of when that process could wrap up, it said the process typically takes up to a year to complete.

In February, Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft said he expected the FAA portion of the process to take between three to six months.

The cost the Department of Aviation will incur from the name change has still not been finalized, but McCarran spokesman Chris Jones pegged it at between $5 million and $7 million.

When the commission approved changing the airport’s name to Harry Reid International Airport, it was told that no taxpayer money would be used for any portion of the process. Instead, donations from the public would be collected toward the cause.

Clark County commissioners last week approved creating an account to collect donations to pay for the airport renaming.

Information regarding how the public can donate is not yet available, according to Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa.

“We’re just waiting for an estimate on how much the name change will cost before accepting donations,” Pappa noted.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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