LOUISVILLE – People have launched a new online petition calling to rename Louisville International Airport after famous boxer, humanitarian and Louisvillian Muhammad Ali.
“Although some may see this as a simple name change, we have an opportunity to show the world our appreciation for Ali’s legacy and his life (sic),” the petition reads.
“It’s an opportunity to unite our city and the world in the name of Peace and Love. It’s what Ali was all about.”
The famed boxer and icon died Friday at the age of 74, after spending 32 years fighting Parkinson’s disease.
His name trended all over social media with hashtags such as the Greatest of All Time or #GOAT for short, and Rest in Power.
Named Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr after his father, the sporting champion, who died aged 74, reverted to Islam in 1964 and changed his name to Mohammad Ali, dubbing his former alias, Cassius Clay, “my slave name”.
Battling Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years, his death was confirmed by his family in a statement who said the family “would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support” and asked for privacy.
The funeral was attended by thousands of people in Ali’s home town of Louisville, Kentucky.
The 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, US Rep. John Yarmuth, US Sen. Mitch McConnell and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
As of Wednesday morning, it has 945 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 call back to when it was named Standiford Field.
“His memorial service brought together people from all walks of life, rich, poor, learned, unlearned, regardless 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 humanitarian legacy of Muhammad Ali and our great city.”
Airport officials declared that there are no current plans to change the name.
Natalie Chaudoin, acting public relations director for Louisville Airport Authority, added that the authority’s board of directors would have to discuss and approve the change.
“That would be their call,” she told Insider Louisville.
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.