VOL. 124 | NO. 35 | Friday, February 20, 2009
Passenger Traffic Down at Airport
By Eric Smith
The slumping economy took its toll on passenger and cargo traffic at Memphis International Airport in January, with activity in both sectors experiencing declines. The latest numbers were unveiled Thursday at the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority’s February board of commissioners meeting.
The number of scheduled daily flights for the month declined 7.4 percent compared to January 2008. Memphis had 264 flights each day last month, down from 285 a year ago. It marked the “lowest number of average flights in a long time,” executive vice president of finance Scott Brockman told the board.
Delta Air Lines Inc., which operates a passenger hub in the city, accounted for four fewer flights each day, but the biggest impact came from Frontier Airlines, which had six Memphis flights a year ago, but has since left the market.
The total passenger count for the airport in January was 717,021, an 11 percent decline from 805,360. For the fiscal year (July through June), passenger traffic has decreased 7.3 percent.
The dropoff for cargo hasn’t been as steep. Memphis International – recently named the world’s busiest cargo airport for the 17th straight year – moved 659.6 million pounds of cargo in January, a 5.7 percent decline from the January 2008 total of 699.2 million pounds. The bulk of last month’s cargo, 651.3 million pounds, was handled by FedEx.
Despite the traffic declines, capital projects such as the reconstruction of Runway 9/27 and the construction of a new air traffic control tower are on track. Also, MSCAA is under budget, Brockman said, adding that the team is doing less with more.
That news was well received by Airport Authority chairman Arnold Perl, who touted the staff’s ability to adapt to challenging times by revising budget numbers according to the market.
“Memphis International, as always, is ahead of the curve in this economic downslide,” Perl said.
In other news from the meeting, the board approved a lease and concessions contract amendment with International Travel Insurance and awarded a contract of insurance broker services to Willis of Tennessee Inc.
This was the board’s second meeting in 10 days. Last month’s meeting was postponed to Feb. 9 because of inclement weather in late January. The next meeting is scheduled for March 19.