GATWICK Airport should be renamed "Croydon International" to help turn our borough into an "economic powerhouse".
This is the view of Kenley councillor and Croydon Greater London Authority member Steve O' Connell, who revealed he has held talks with Gatwick's chief executive about a name change – even though the airport is a full ten miles from our borough.
Mr O' Connell raised the issue at an assembly meeting on Wednesday, where he stressed his support for a second runway at the Sussex airport.
He then stated his view that "Gatwick is Croydon's first and best international connection, and it only makes sense to link it by name to this recognisable part of London".
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Mr O' Connell said: "I think there is a need for increasing airport capacity so, by 2020, Gatwick should have a second runway.
"The majority of people flying into Gatwick are coming to visit London. Croydon is less than ten miles from the airport, it is thought of as a south London airport, and should be named so.
"The whole area is being regenerated with Westfield and Hammerson coming in and is becoming an economic powerhouse."
Mr O' Connell confirmed he had spoken to Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, about renaming the airport.
However, Mr O' Connell's fellow Conservative, Crawley MP Henry Smith, whose constituency includes Gatwick, told the Advertiser he "respectfully disagrees" with the idea.
Mr Smith said: "With respect, I think the airport is so well-known globally that renaming it is not a good idea. Croydon is miles down the road and renaming it Croydon International Airport could cause some confusion.
"I suppose this is all part of the healthy debate over aviation, but Gatwick has been known by this name for many years the world over and changing it would be unwise."
A Gatwick spokesman didn't comment specifically on the renaming call, but said: "We welcome support for our plans to expand Gatwick which would enable us to provide jobs and help support the economic growth of important surrounding towns like Croydon."
In the early 20th century, Croydon was home to the country's largest airport – now the site of Airport House business centre, off the Purley Way.
It was the first airport to introduce air traffic control, before closing to civil aviation in 1939.