“The LBJ Foundation has put together a proposal to rename the airport in honor of President Johnson as part of the 60th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act,” Watson said in a statement.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Kirk Watson is in talks to possibly rename Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after former President Lyndon B. Johnson.
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Watson said his office has had a “preliminary conversation” with LBJ Foundation officials about the proposal, as first reported by KUT.
“We’ll have a lot more conversations with a lot more people throughout the community as we explore this idea,” Watson said.
The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, making next year the 60th anniversary.
“Lyndon Johnson was enormously proud of his Central Texas roots and spent much of his political career advocating for the advancement of the region and its citizens before becoming president,” said Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation.
“President and Mrs. Johnson would surely be honored at the prospect of the airport being named for him,” Updegrove said. “The LBJ Foundation stands ready to work with the Mayor’s office, the city of Austin, and members of the Austin community toward its realization.”
An airport spokesperson told KXAN a name change proposal would be initiated at the city council, not by airport department staff.
“We would coordinate at the appropriate time following any policy changes made by Austin City Council,” the spokesperson said.
AUS is currently named for Capt. John Bergstrom, the first native Austinite killed in action during World War II. Bergstrom was serving as an administrative officer with the 19th Bombardment Group in the Philippines when he was killed on Dec. 8, 1941, at the age of 34.
The Del Valle Airfield, located at the site of current-day AUS, was renamed the Bergstrom Army Airfield in March 1943, before becoming the Bergstrom Air Force Base in 1948, when the Air Force split from the Army, according to the airport’s website.
The base was decommissioned in the 1990s and later became Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in 1999, after the closure of Robert Mueller Municipal Airport.
One of AUS’ two runways is already named for President Johnson. City Council dedicated the west runway to LBJ in 1999. The east runway is dedicated to former Congressman J. J. “Jake” Pickle.
The Federal Aviation Administration told KXAN it does not regulate airport name changes, and any decision to change an airport name is a local issue.
Any airport that does change its name is required to notify the FAA, and the airport must file the appropriate documents to report the name change on the FAA airport certificate and airspace publications, a spokesperson said.