PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A bill that would rename T.F. Green Airport cleared a major hurdle Tuesday.

The R.I. Senate passed legislation that would rename the airport to the “Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.”

Lawmakers have considered renaming the state’s airport for years, but the pandemic’s impact on the travel industry has renewed their efforts.

The bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, said renaming the airport would improve its identity.

“The airport is an economic engine for Warwick and Rhode Island and this opportunity to raise the airport’s brand awareness could attract even more domestic and international travelers to the Ocean State,” McCaffrey said. “More passengers means more dollars spent at Warwick and Rhode Island businesses.”

In a recent interview on 12 News Now at 4, Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) President and CEO Iftikhar Ahmad said the initial request to rename the airport came from the airlines.

“They wanted a geographical identifier in the name, and that is how the conversation started,” he explained.

The airport is currently named after former Governor and U.S. Senator Theodore Francis Green.

In the past, some lawmakers expressed concern with taking T.F. Green out of the airport’s name because of his historical significance.

But airport executives argue this proposal will increase awareness of the state’s main airport to travelers both domestic and international while also continuing to honor T.F. Green.

The legislation returns to the R.I. House of Representatives for consideration, where it was held for further study earlier this month.