Dunleavy seeks to name Fairbanks airport after Alaska’s late Rep. Don Young

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The Fairbanks International Airport terminal interior is seen on March 1, 2023. A bill introduced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy would name the airport after the late Don Young, the longest-serving Republican in U.S. House history. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

The international airport in Alaska’s second largest city would be named after Don Young, the late U.S. House member who represented the state for 49 years, under legislation introduced Wednesday by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Dunleavy’s measure, House Bill 288 and Senate Bill 202, would name the Fairbanks International Airport after Congressman Young. The Republican served in the House from 1973 until his death in 2022.

Young, who held Alaska’s sole seat in the House, was the longest-serving Republican in that body’s history.

“Don Young’s passing may have marked the end of an era, but his impact will resonate for generations to come,” Dunleavy said in a written statement. “The renaming of the Fairbanks International Airport is a fitting tribute to a man who championed the importance of Alaska’s transportation infrastructure and [whose advocacy is benefiting Alaskans and visitors every day.”

The Anchorage Assembly earlier this month approved a name change for the city port, making it the Don Young Port of Alaska. That followed a change made in 2017, when the facility’s name was changed from the Port of Anchorage.

Also named for Young after his death, through federal legislation that passed in 2022, is a volcano in the Aleutian Islands, a federal building in Fairbanks and a job center in Palmer.

Selecting a volcano to name was appropriate for an Alaska statesman known for his “more explosive side,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said in a floor speech when the 2022 bill won final passage.

“As we were looking for something that might be fitting, we looked not only at mountains, but we looked at mountains that continue to blow their top to this very day,” she said.

The international airport in Anchorage is named after Ted Stevens, the Republican who represented Alaska for 41 years in the U.S. Senate. It became the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in 2000, when Stevens was still in office. He died in a 2010 plane crash.

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