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Airport changes name to better reflect its services

Date: 5/3/2011

May 4, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD — The Westfield- Barnes Airport is adding one more change to its slate of recent upgrades.

In addition to the approximately $7 million in taxiway and other improvements the facility has made in the past few years, the Westfield-Barnes Airport Commission recently petitioned the City Council for permission to alter the airport's name to better reflect the advantages it can offer potential businesses.

At its April 21 meeting, the council approved the name change from Westfield-Barnes Municipal Airport to Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport.

"A lot of it is perception," Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport Manager Brian Barnes said. "We have a lot of services that we offer at this airport that are comparable to a larger airport and by changing the [airport's] name, we thought it would reflect that."

Among the services Barnes said the airport could offer a potential client are 24/7 snow removal and crash/fire services, a state-of-the-art instrument approach system, ample land for corporate flight companies to site a hangar and easy access to major highways.

"We're pretty much centrally located in New England," Barnes said. "We're near all the big roads that go through the area [and that's important] when you start talking about flying goods and bringing people in."

He added that the cost to locate an aviation-based business at Westfield-Barnes is "far less than any of the big metropolitan areas."

Barnes said the Airport Commission started talking about the name change about six months ago as it began exploring ways to better market the airport and its potential for growth.

"A lot of times, people will look at the municipal name and won't even consider flying in [to an airport] or bringing a business in," Barnes said. "We didn't want to miss that group of people who would misunderstand [what we offer] by seeing municipal [in our name]. We're trying to reach a bigger audience."

He said the official announcement of the name change would take place "pretty soon," and airport visitors would see the regional designation reflected on signage and other airport materials shortly after that.

Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport is home to the Massachusetts Air National Guard 104th Fighter Wing, the Army National Guard 226th Division Army Aviation Support Battalion, Gulfstream Aerospace Maintenance Services, AirFlyte's maintenance facility and flight base operations, Five Star Jet Center's flight base operations, Aero Design restoration services and several other aviation-related businesses.

Barnes said the airport is also working with two additional prospective businesses.

"We're looking to make the airport more of a contributor to the economics of the city," he added.

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