The company running Prague’s international airport has registered “Vaclav Havel Prague International Airport” as a protected title in a move paving the way for a possible renaming of the airport in honor of the playwright and dissident who become president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, the daily Právo reported on Thursday.
The registration of the name at a national database is particular in that it is in English and differs from the correct Czech spelling of “Václav.” The paper says the reason for this is the airport’s international business and fact the name might, for example, be used in international publicity.
The Czech state, the main shareholder in airport company Letiště Praha, is under increasing pressure to rename Central Europe’s busiest airport after Václav Havel, who died at the age of 75 on December 18.
A petition calling for the airport to be renamed after Václav Havel led by Czech-based film producer Fero Fenič was on the verge of passing through the 70,000 mark on Thursday morning. Signatories have included Václav Havel’s widow, Dagmar, and brother, Ivan, as well as prominent figures from the literary, artistic and entertainment worlds.
Právo says a counter petition against the idea of renaming the airport after Havel has also sprung up, backed up so far by around 6,000 signatures, the paper said. Havel’s former office secretary, Vladimír Hanzel, pointed out earlier this week that Havel never looked forward to going to Prague’s airport because he was afraid of flying.
Top Czech politicians appear divided on whether Václav Havel should follow in the footsteps of Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and John Lennon and have an airport named after him. Former friends, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) and Minister of Defense Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrat, ODS) have spoken out in favor, but Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrat, ODS) and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) have been much more cautious.