Mid-South Mayors Discuss High Costs at Memphis International
(Memphis) Mayors from the three state area are coming up with a strategic action plan of how to bring more airlines to town, and drive down prices.
Memphis became a hub of Delta by default when they took over Northwest.
And experts tell area mayors the city doesn’t have enough population to support the hub and number of flights flying out of Memphis International dominated by Delta.
Back in 1978, there were 17 airlines flying out of Memphis.
Today there are 4.
Norma Barrett-Rich is going to Alaska to visit her son.
She’s excited about her trip but not how much airline tickets cost her, “They’re very high. I mean very high. Especially since you have to fly Delta.”
She doesn’t have too many options and had to fly Delta and pay whatever price they set.
“If I want a cheaper flight I have to go to Nashville, or Little Rock. It doesn’t make sense,” said Barrett-Rich.
Delta is cutting some flights out of Memphis International because of demand and high fuel costs.
Passengers like Barrett-Rich say high prices by Delta are impacting that demand because people can’t afford tickets.
Mayor A C Wharton is stepping in trying to lure other airlines to town to drive down those prices, “The high fares are not an advantage when it comes to trying to attract business and tourism and conventions.”
Wharton and an airline consultant met with mayors from Northern Mississippi, East Arkansas and West Tennessee.
Arlington Mayor Mike Whissman says they may not get a slice of the landing and takeoff fees Memphis gets, but they are heavily dependent on the success of the airport, “Anything that can benefit our corporate partners to get to and from the places they need to go benefits us as a town. Also, it benefits our residents.”
They are now faced with a decision: If Memphis wants to remain a Delta hub, and what will Memphis International have to do to bring in more competition.
“There is a cost to being a hub. More non-stop flights on bigger planes and that means you have to pay more fares,” said Mayor Wharton.
President of Memphis Airport Authority Larry Cox says they are getting a lot of interest from low-cost carriers because of a new incentive program.
“The airlines can get credits for landing fees and terminal building rentals as well as marketing money. We’ll split that 50 50 with them,” said Cox.
Cox says they started the million dollar incentive program this month.