Airport named after James Bond author

Jamaica's third international airport opened for business last week, bearing the name of one of the island's most illustrious former inhabitants, Ian Fleming.

The airport, in north Jamaica, close to Fleming's Goldeneye estate, is to be used primarily by private jets - which seems appropriate, given the high-life proclivities of Fleming's most famous creation, James Bond.

The opening of Ian Fleming International Airport also represents something of a milestone, in that it is the first time an airport seems to have been named after an English-language writer.

Other creative types, especially musicians, have been more successful: besides John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, there's the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and the Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport.

Actors do reasonably well, too: John Wayne and Bob Hope have airports in California named after them.

This neglect of writers is an international phenomenon: before Jamaica came to the rescue, the only novelist anywhere whose name seems to have graced an airport (in Lyon) was Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince.

But even this doesn't really count, because Saint-Exupery was also a celebrated pilot who lost his life during World War II.

It isn't too far-fetched to say that one can tell something about a nation from the kind of people it names its airports after.

America, with a few showbiz exceptions, is pretty unadventurous: airports tend to be named after local dignitaries. Italy is the best when it comes to celebrating horizon-expanding figures from its past, with Marco Polo (Venice), Christopher Columbus (Genoa) and Galileo (Pisa).

Latin and Central America go in for national heroes - Simon Bolivar (Caracas), Jose Marti (Havana). In Britain, as well as John Lennon, there's Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster, while travellers waiting for flights in Newquay can put their feet up in the Jo Whiley departure lounge. Jo Whiley is a DJ and television presenter.


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