New Name for New Airport, again.

Tuesday the Airport Authority met and again discussed the new name for the new airport that is currently under construction in North Bay County.  The Board met a few weeks back and decided upon the name Northwest Florida Panama City International Airport, much to the dismay of local tourism industry leaders and government officials.  The justification of the previously picked new name by the board consisted of wanting to give Panama City credit for nurturing the new airport project along and ensure travelers to our area knew and understood that they were coming to Panama City.

But, I think that being sure that people know they are coming to Panama City is contradictory to the mission as a whole here.

The whole idea to bringing a low cost carrier and marketing our area as a region has nothing to do with Panama City, but rather the whole Panhandle area of Northwest Florida; Panama City is just one component in the entire machine.

Well, apparently we at PCBDaily aren’t the only ones that feel this way.  Many in the community, including the Mayor of Panama City Beach, the Bay County Tourist Development Council, and various other officials had sounded off in response to the new name with formal letters, charters and the like.  Mayor Gayle Oberst said in a letter to the board:

It was with regret that I learned the name that was selected for the newest airport in  Florida.  I sincerely hope that you will reconsider and choose a name that is truly regional in nature and scope.

This airport is a milestone for all of this area in many ways: the new industry that will grow, the increase in the tourism business, the first time this area including the surrounding counties has worked together to make the airport and the future to happen, and the overall increase in the quality of life for our residents.

I think we can safely say that there are so many other names including those listed in the top five selections under consideration that more represent the nature of what is happening here.  What a wonderful opportunity we have and it is a shame not to take advantage of it. Northwest Florida has already been taken by another airport and Panama City denotes such a narrow scope (one city of many).

Once again I would request that you reconsider, think regional, and do what is best for Bay County and our regional partners.

Shortly thereafter, the Bay County Tourist Development Council assembled a resolution and submitted formerly to the Airport Authority Board their suggestion for a new name:

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, unanimously, by the Bay County Tourist Development Council and Board of Directors of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. that the Airport Authority is respectfully requested to reconsider the name of the new airport, and again consider naming the airport the “Northwest Florida International Airport.”

Well, it would seem everyone got their wish, with a little Airport Board twist squeezed right in the middle.  The new name that was decided upon yesterday is Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.  And, although at first, the name may seem silly, here me out why I love it.

I love that at the beginning of the name is Northwest Florida.  This offers clarification as to where we are and what we are reaching for.  At the heart of this whole dream is to put all our differences aside (between us and our neighbors to the west AND east of us) and regionalize our area.  I firmly beleive that this new airport will serve Walton County just as much (if not more) as Bay County, and that’s a good thing.  People will fly into this airport and travel to all over the panhandle, and they’ll be driving right through Panama City Beach.  If we get that Highway 79 corridor dressed up before planes start landing, we’ll be sure to leave a stunning impression on them and leave them wondering, “maybe we should stay in PCB next time.”

The third word Beaches is great because it talked about what we are and what makes our area so special.  We have THE BEACH.  I know we all take that for grated – I know I do – but this is something that is very special to millions around the world.  Growing up in Dallas TX, my parents always had a little soda bottle of some of our white sand sitting on their bathroom counter, reminding them of what they most look forward to – vacation!  In fact, I think that bottle is still there!  Millions come to our sand in the panhandle each year and run it through their fingers, dreaming of the small chance they can one day live closer to the coast.  Yet, I live a quarter mile from this treasure and haven’t spent on the beach in months.  When people fly into our new airport, they’ll think more than just going to Northwest Florida, they’ll think of going to THE BEACH.  The Beach.  “I love the beach,” they’ll say.

International is meaningless unless we actually have international flights coming into our area.  But, the Airport Authority has been in talks with British Airways AND Virgin Atlantic, both of which are looking for new opportunity and bring flights regularly stateside.  They see this as an opportunity to bring their travelers to a whole region and open up to them a part of the country that they’ve previously not had access to.  It will take time for those relationships to work out, but I can assure you that with the capacity, we will uncover a huge pent-up demand for our area.

The new name isn’t exactly what everyone was hoping for, but I suspect that Northwest Florida International Airport really wasn’t plausible anyway.

43 thoughts on “New Name for New Airport, again.

  1. Panhandle Int’l would’ve been good enough, but we get another mouthful. Yes, we have the beaches, however, the airport is being built not just to serve the beaches, but the whole region. The beaches only account for a small % of land area, but most of the tax dollars generated. Florida, Panhandle, and Emerald Coast Int’l all sound better than this. Using Emerald Coast would’ve been just, but the committee was afraid of a controversy using that name, well NW FL Int’l contradicts NW FL Regional and will likely confuse people.

    I like the new airport, but it could really use another name that is more simple and represents the region as a whole. Drop Beaches and stick with NW FL.





  3. I hope alla you beaches are happy with this one!

    …hehe. Okay, got that outta my system.

    I like it. The first time I read it, it sounded a little awkward, but the second or third time solved that. It absolutely puts our best foot forward – people think of our beaches, let’s make sure they come here! A little bit of subtle pushing them our way. 🙂

    We all benefit.


  4. I am very glad that the new name of the airport has Beaches in it. This is a word to many across the World that invokes a vision. It excites people who do not live near beaches and is a key word for most of the people planning vacations. So the new name is a great change. We are blessed enough to live near one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere. We need to play on our strengths, and our beach is very hard to beat and a very good reason to spend a vacation here.


  5. As an Emerald Coast investor, I really like the new twist with “Beaches” in the name. This is a nice runner-up option to the Emerald Coast name that we would all prefer. Bravo! And here’s hoping we can get BA or Virgin signed up as an international carrier!


  6. Still don’t like it – too long and bulky. NW Emerald Coast Int’l (NWEC) is better – even if it is the beach we love – we are more than “Beaches” I did not ever hear of a good reason for not using emerald coast in the name – what was that logic?

    I like “Panhandle,” too, as it is descriptive of the area. I never think of the NW of Florida – I think of the Panhandle of Florida.

    Decision – no better than the other – just dumb…


  7. Another opportunity wasted… but at the end of the day, people will call it the Panama City Airport anyway so hopefully we can now move on to more important things like deciding whether to use centipede or bermuda grass at the new “Northwest Florida Emerald Coast Beaches of Panama City and the Panhandle International Regional Airport” (or whatever the sign says when it opens)


  8. It was right to remove ‘Panama City’ from the name, however ‘Beaches’ will get the other word substitued in there. However, that will insure that we retain our ‘handle’ of “Redneck Riviera’ (which I detest!). I thought we were wanting more upscale visitors. This is a call to the Spring Break Party crowd.

    If this is such a grand name, why didn’t Jackson Hole name their airport Jackson Hole Skiing Airport?

    Does anyone know of any airports around with crazy names??


  9. I am disappointed thay Panama City was taken out of the name. We need the people coming in and we should take care of ourselves first. I know this sounds selfish to some, but I am tired of losing tons of money in PCB. Other areas are thought of as higher class than PCB. Do you think they plan to return the favor to PCB in any way? No. We are in competition for every person that wants a beach vacation and we should have kept our slight edge and ignored the sour grapes of our neighbors. Competition folks.


    1. It takes time to change a reputation. Pier Park will help. The new structures coming in will help. The road upgrades will help. The new airport will help.

      It’s just a matter of time and hard work. And it probably won’t go perfectly, but nothing ever does.


  10. The only thing that concerns me is that our visitors my confuse it with the Northwest Florida Regional Airport! Seems like there may be some confusion since they both start with the words “Northwest Florida”.


  11. Jason,
    You are so right on with the new name. It fits our region and I’m glad Beaches will be in the name. My suggestion when they were asking for names was Beaches International Airport. Call letters BCH. It’s all about THE BEACH! 🙂


  12. Regardless of the name, our airport will bring vistors and industry to our ‘area’ – which is most important. You all can play the ‘name game’ as much as you want. Like it or not, it is what it is folks… btw, when someone in your family or friends who have just had a baby with a name that you think sounds funny – do you make fun of, or tell them they should have named it so and so…?


  13. With all the stories of salvation for the beaches/region and controversies surrounding the environment, cost and name, of the airport, one would think that DIA was being recreated in the swamps of north Florida. Why didn’t they just put a set of wheels on the PC airport, call a house mover, place it on the site, have the road crew off pulled hwy 79 for a week to lay the runway or just collect oyster shells from all the “local” bars and have those crushed and put down like they once covered the roads, use Maison jars with candles in them for runway lights, take a used bill board sign and spray paint airport on it and call it a day. If I were flying in to visit Vernon or Wiewahitchka, as my regional destination, I would be completely satisfied with those amities. Get a grip, The airport is being built to generate tourist dollars not to get Aunt Pearl home.


  14. The name is a great improvement over the old one. It was way too long. However I am not crazy about “Beaches” being added. I think the use of “Coastal” would have sounded better. Northwest Florida Coast International Airport or Florida’s Northwest Coast International Airport. The name is still too long. I agree with the other post that “Beaches” give the idea of a spring break destination. It will be what it will be. In the end it is just the fact that people can get to the area!!!! WONDERFUL!


    1. I completely agree. Adding “Beaches” makes it sound lame and totally gimmicky. I swear, this is all the “leaders” can come up with? I’m not trying to bitch here, even though I am, but come on… adding beaches is so gimmicky it’s sad. Northwest Florida International Airport would have been way better…


  15. What was the issue with Emerald Coast International Airport? I think it conveys the same information as “Beaches,” but has a classier sound to it.

    Does anyone know why “emerald coast” was rejected?


    1. Emerald Coast is considered the Destin area. This airport will replace the one from Panama City and should represent the whole Panhandle area with emphasis on the beaches since most of the folks flying in and out will be tourist. Of course, this is what it is all about dollars for our economy. The new airport will provide many benefits to all of us that live in the area. Beaches of South Walton is not considered the Redneck Riveria so I don’t think Beaches is such a bad idea. How about NW FL Beaches International Airport.
      Written like that does not sound to long. I like the Gulf Coast Panhandle International Airport that would cover it all. When I refer to this area I always say the Gulf Coast Panhandle area.


  16. Northwest Florida is too much like the name of the regional airport. We should have followed suite with the other “beach” airports to keep with the naming continuity. It should have been Panama Beach International. Just like Daytona Beach International, Palm Beach International, Myrtle Beach International, Long Beach International, etc.

    How many times have we heard tourists say, “I’m going to Panama!”. They mean here – whether it’s PCB or City of Panama City.

    With the new low fare search engines, the name doesn’t matter anyway.


  17. The airport should have been called Gulf Coast International or Emerald Coast International. It’s that simple.I really don’t like “North” being in the name. It doesn’t sound very “beachy” or tropical. I have lived in the north and wanted to get to a sunny and warm southern beaches on many occasions. North anything would be a turn off. I would think, with the new airport name, most people will call it Beaches International Airport. That’s OK with me. Just drop the Northwest.


  18. Northwest Florida Beaches International or Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) the first two words are the same. I cannot grasp why we are hanging on the coat strings of VPS? The name of this airport should be unique to our area. We are still not separating us and with the first two names being the same, VPS has a ton more searches than the new PFN, it will be buried for a while.


  19. I think we should quit trying to fix the name. What is in a name anyway? I believe our focus should be on developing a good reputation for it as THE premier vacation destination that is safe, family oriented, friendly and fun. After all, that is why we love this place.


  20. Emerald Coast International is a far more resepectable name. It still promotes our beaches and at the same time advertises an important area trademark. I share the previously stated concerns about using beaches and the word north.


  21. At first, this raised my eyebrows. But it great on me:

    1. People (the flying public) are just going to call it Northwest Florida Airport or Panama City Airport. Someone flying in will tell people “flying to Panama City”. If someone flies into a “Something-Or-Other Regional Airport” they usually just say the name of the actual town they are flying into.

    People flying into the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport simply say “we’re flying into Bentonville”. So, Panama City will still be on everyone’s tounge without being in the airport name.

    2. When people book tickets, the word Beaches will be on their tickets. When the stewardess is making her announcements, she’ll be saying “Welcome to our Southwest flight 1234 to Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport”.

    Coastal would have been a bad word. People in cold climates call the water “the coast” (or the shore). In warm weather climates, it is always referred to as “the beach”. The word coast implies non-sandy areas. This is what people think of when they say Coast:
    Lost Coast Shipwreck
    Foggy Coast 365-5  2-11-79


  22. To Pam…my airport has a crazy name…McCarren Int’l. airport code: LAS… Las Vegas, NV

    Adding “beaches” to this airport name sounds awkward to me. I agree with posts here that eventually people will refer to the airport with the name of the city they are flying into. No one fly’s into McCarren….they fly into Vegas.

    Jason…keep up the good work with this website. I plan to move to PCB next year. Your site helps to keep me informed.


  23. Eric… with all due respect… it is McCarran Airport (all aaaaa’s).

    Named after famous (if not infamous) U.S. Senator Patrick McCarran who was instrumental in founding the CAA (Civil Aeronautics Act) which eventually became the FAA. Well deserving of having an airport named after him.

    Having said that, I appreciate you agreeing with the fact that people will only say where they are flying into. Few say “Hartsfield-Jackson” when flying into ATL. They just say that they are going to Atlanta.

    And yes… Jason is doing very cool things with his blogs/sites/videos. I’m a fan. I started out doing something like this over a decade ago in my area, and have made an amazing career out of it (google my name… I’m not here to promote what I do). I wish the same and the very best for Jason over the next decade of the incredible growth of PCB!


  24. My 1st impression was the same as an earlier post. It seems they said we need to add the “Beach” somewhere in the name no matter how stupid it sounds. It just doesn’t fit.

    “Emerald Coast” were the unique words which needed to be in the name. The Airport Authority said having “Emerald Coast” could have led to lawsuits because it conflicted with too many existing uses of “Emeral Coast”. How confusing is using the words Northwest Flordia with all the other entities using these words?

    Another terrible choice of names by the Airport Authority. I think “The 3rd time is a charm” would apply here. What do you say Airport Authority? Give the people what they want and use “Emerald Coast International” for the new name.


  25. Oh for goodness sakes! Get a grip. I wouldn’t have thought of “Beaches” as part of the airport name but it’s descriptive and I’m fine with it. Because most international airports don’t have the word ‘international’ in the title, “International” sounds to me like we’re trying too hard and we’re really a little airport, but so what? I hope it IS international soon. And do you really think someone flying in on BA or Virgin are going to get their destination confused with some little regional (VPS) airport they’ve never heard of? No. They are going to book a flight on an airline from their city to the area where they want to land. No confusion. More flights on multiple carriers from new locations will bring new visitors to our REGION. That’s a good thing. No matter whether they plan to end up in Fort Walton, Mexico Beach or Panama City Beach, they are going to say “I’m going to . They less likely to tell people they are on their way to a certain airport. However, NWF will be good call letters to replace PFN.


  26. Concerning the call letter (ICAO) can not be KN–, and there is a reason for that. The second letter, can not be a N as that is reserved only for U.S. Navy air fields, and will remain that way.


  27. KBCH appears to be available (although it might be too close to the word bitch to be allowed). Be interesting to see what other suggestions come up.


  28. I agrees with “Poolside” above. He has it right. “Gulf Coast International”, said it all. Some of the others are very clumsy.


  29. I’m having a hard time getting a grasp on the legal issue of using Emerald Coast International, which sounds awesome.

    Is the term “Emerald Coast” copyrighted by some legal entity?

    What about all the other company’s, destinations, etc. who use the name, are they infringing on someone elses rights to use the name? if so, my understanding is to protect someone’s right to use the name they would have to have made attempts ot enforce this copyright. But if it’s describing a general location, which appears to be the case here, I don’t believe there’s significant legal issues around using this description.

    I live in Vancouver and we have a place due north of us that’s called the Sunshine Coast, now there’s no city or town called that, it’s just the general area, but many businesses use that description in their name and certainly if an international airport were ever to be built, I can say with almost complete certainty that this description would be in the name.

    But I’m an accountant, and financial advisor, not a lawyer, so perhaps I’m missing something.

    BTW, Gulf Coast International, as someone suggested above sounds pretty good.


  30. Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport
    Ya know, I really like the name of our new airport. It’s growing on me. At first I was so-so on the name but now I love it. I’m so proud of our new airport!! Congrats to all the locals that supported this project!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s