23 Jun 2003

Campaign to prevent renaming of Solomons international airport

10:30 am on 23 June 2003

A Honiara businessman who has spearheaded a campaign to discourage the Government from changing the name of Henderson Field airport in Honiara believes it has achieved its aim.

The country's only international airport was named after World War Two pilot Lofton Henderson, the first marine pilot killed in the Battle of Midway in 1942.

Suggestions the name should be changed have sparked an international outcry, with the issue making front page news in the Washington Post.

John Innes, who has been trying for years to establish a military heritage trail on Guadalcanal, says an internet petition garnered seven thousand names in a two week period.

He says there is now widespread opposition to any change, including from the Prime Minister.

"There is going to be a cabinet meeting and i think the suggestion thst will be presented is that we firmly reject it. That's the indication i got from the prime minister when I presented him with the petition."

John Innes says the Japanese embassy has rejected any suggestions that Japan wants to see a name change or has tied such a move to assistance it might provide for an airport upgrade at Henderson Field.