Memphis Airport Traffic Numbers Down

By Eric Smith

Passenger and cargo traffic at Memphis International Airport continued to shrink in May because of the soft economy.

The most recent numbers, unveiled Thursday at the monthly board of commissioners meeting of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, showed monthly and year-to-date declines as carrier capacity was reduced to meet lessening demand.

On the passenger side, the airport averaged 270 daily scheduled flights in May, down 5.9 percent from 287 the same month a year ago. And Memphis International saw 870,423 passengers last month, an 11.1 percent decline from 979,311 in May 2008.

For the fiscal year to date (July 2008 through May), traffic has totaled 9.1 million passengers, an 8.4 percent dropoff from 9.9 million passengers the same period the year before.

As for cargo, the airport also has seen its tonnage decline, though not to the same degree as the passenger side. Memphis International Airport handled 7.32 billion pounds of cargo for fiscal year to date, down 5.3 percent from 7.73 billion pounds for the same period of fiscal year 2008.

In other news from Thursday’s meeting, the board of commissioners approved a $798,000 contract with Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. to provide engineering design services and construction administrative assistance on a taxiway that parallels Runway 9/27, the airport’s lone east-west runway.

That runway is under reconstruction; Kimley-Horn also is handling engineering work for that project.

The board approved the relocation of AirTran Airways from Terminal C to Terminal A, where it will occupy 7,500 square feet. The move comes on the heels of Delta’s departure from Terminal A. AirTran operates five daily scheduled flights between Memphis and Atlanta.

Next, the board approved a five-year, $387,685 contract with Cooper Crouse-Hinds to monitor and control all runway and taxiway lighting through the company’s airfield lighting computer control and monitoring systems.

Last, the board approved a resolution that authorizes four members of the airport authority – including president Larry Cox, chairman Arnold Perl and chief financial officer Scott Brockman – to access a $45 million line of credit through Regions Bank for projects related to the reconstruction of Runway 9/27.