VOL. 127 | NO. 166 | Friday, August 24, 2012
Cox: Airport Incentives Drawing Interest From Carriers
By Bill Dries
In the three months since the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority rolled out an incentives program to draw new air service, the $1 million pool of money has drawn a lot of attention and interest from air carriers.
Larry Cox, the airport authority’s president and CEO, mentioned contacts with large and regional air carriers during a Thursday, Aug. 23, presentation at the Greater Memphis Chamber’s breakfast forum in East Memphis.
“There is definitely interest. I just can’t give you any details,” he said after the forum. “I can tell you that almost all of the airlines are interested. There are different levels of interest. But I’m encouraged.”
Cox was asked about the incentives as well as the new ground transportation center that is tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of this year after his presentation to the audience of 200.
“Part of the challenge is more than 95 percent of all of their flights go to and from their hubs,” Cox said of the four major global air carriers including Delta Air Lines, which has a hub in Memphis. “It’s not so much point-to-point stuff like they had back in the old days where you go from Charleston to Des Moines.”
Memphis is a hub but most of the passenger traffic is connecting on its way from one place to another and neither is Memphis.
“The availability of domestic air service has shrunk by over 35 percent in the last decade. The growth has been from the mega hubs internationally,” Cox continued. “That’s where the airlines have been putting their growth. It makes it difficult for all mid-sized airports.”
The result is trying to build service with smaller low-cost airlines that offer additional domestic air service.
“That’s what our future is,” Cox said.
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines launches its new air service to Branson, Mo., Monday, Aug. 27, with what leaders of the vacation destination town term a “pep rally” there that will include Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Southwest executives.
And the Columbia Daily Tribune reported this week Delta Air Lines will end its early morning flight to Memphis from Columbia, Mo., on Nov. 2. The service will resume in March but the flight to Columbia will originate from Atlanta, where Delta’s flagship hub is located, instead of Memphis International Airport.