People are calling for Louisville Regional Airport Authority to rename the Louisville International Airport after famous boxer, humanitarian and Louisvillian Muhammad Ali.
Ali died June 3 and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery on Friday, followed by a public memorial service at the KFC Yum! Center.
A petition was started on change.org on June 12 asking for at least 500 signatures before the request is sent on to the airport authority, Gov. Matt Bevin, both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. As of Monday morning, it has 398 digital signatures.
The petition suggests the name Muhammad Ali International, with the three-letter airport code ALI. Currently, Louisville International Airport’s three-letter code is SDF, a callback to when it was named Standiford Field.
A man named Robert Holmes III started the petition. According to his Facebook page, he is a resident of Louisville. He could not immediately be reached for comment on why he began the campaign.
“His memorial service brought toghether people from all walks of life, rich, poor, learned, unlearned, reargardless of race, color, creed, national origin, and religion (sic),” the petition states.
“His message was simple, peace, love, understanding, and using inspiration to maximize our human potential. Renaming Louisville International Airport, often times still referred to as Standiford Field (SDF), will bring attention to the humitarian legacy of Muhammad Ali and our great city. Although some may see this as a simple name change, we have an oppourtunity to show the world our appeciation for Ali’s legacy and his life (sic),” it continued. “It’s an oppourtunity to unite our city and the world in the name of Peace and Love. It’s what Ali was all about.”
A few other Ali-related petitions have popped up since his death, including one to replace the Confederate monument on the University of Louisville’s campus with a memorial of Ali.
Natalie Chaudoin, acting public relations director for Louisville Airport Authority, said there are currently no plans to rename the airport, and the authority’s board of directors would have to discuss and approve the change.
“That would be their call,” she said.
Chaudoin said she did not know the specifics of the approval process.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said a name change is up to the airport authority, and it would simply need to notify the FAA of the change “well before” it takes effect.
As for changing SDF to ALI, that seems highly unlikely.
“Location identifiers are considered permanent and will not be changed without strong and documented justification, primarily concerning air safety,” Bergen said in an email. “Location identifiers are not interchangeable and cannot be transferred from one location to another or from one airport to another even within the same community. The original identifier will remain in effect even if it is necessary to change the airport’s name.”
She also noted that ALI is the three-word code for the Alice International Airport in Alice, Texas.