(Memphis, TN) It’s been years, if not decades, since anyone talked about an airfare war at Memphis International Airport, but not anymore.
With Delta Airlines closing its hub here and Southwest adding service for the first time, suddenly lower fares are easier to find.
That apparently has Delta trying to defend what’s left of its turf.
Southwest Airlines arrived in Memphis Sunday with all the hype of a Hollywood premiere.
There was even an Elvis impersonator directing the first Southwest jet onto the airport tarmac.
But Elvis has “left the terminal.” So let the fare war begin.
Southwest brought some attractive fare reductions and baggage rates to Memphis, even a three-day, $50, one-way deal on its flights in and out of Memphis.
The bargains apparently forced rival Delta to do the same. according to Memphian Tom Jones.
“I know a number of people who went to San Francisco lately because the fare dropped to $275. They hadn’t seen that fare in years,” said Jones.
Tom Jones’ “Delta Does Memphis” website has long criticized Delta’s monopoly in Memphis.
He said he believes any gesture of kindness by Delta is merely a business tactic to keep passengers from flying Southwest.
“I don’t think we should look for them to suddenly decide they’re going to be concerned about Memphians’ long term irritation about high airfares and lower prices,” said Jones.
Some air travelers we talked with at Memphis International Airport consider a fare war good for the passenger’s bottom line.
Leonard Hudson is from Starkville, Miss.
“I would like to get a cheaper price, you know. If the accommodation’s the same I would like to get a cheaper price,” said Hudson.
James Goodnight is from Sardis, Miss.
“I think it’s wonderful. It’s going to help everyone that want’s to go traveling,” said Goodnight.
Delta’s deep cuts in Memphis has left half the main terminal looking sparse.
But airport spokesman Glen Thomas said rumors of a fare war between carriers could be good news for the airport and potential passengers, and that ultimately the passengers will determine who wins a fare war.
“We have heard that some of the airlines have dropped fares to certain areas. And of course, competition is good. Competition can bring that type of reduction in fares. That’s exactly what we’re looking for,” said Thomas.
Another discount carrier, Frontier, will launch non-stop service to Denver in March 2014.
Glen Thomas said the Memphis airport isn’t giving up on luring new air carriers to call Memphis home.
“We are talking to virtually every other airline that doesn’t have services here. So, we hope to add to that number of carriers,” said Thomas.