Memphis Airport Cutbacks Being Felt in Concessions

By Bill Dries

Some restaurants at Memphis International Airport have started to close on Saturdays because of the second round of Delta Air Lines flight cutbacks that began in September at Memphis International Airport.

But the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority not only hit its budgeted amounts for airfield fees as the cutbacks began. The authority collected more than it budgeted.

The budgeted amount for September, taking into account fewer Delta flights, was $3,472,138. The actual amount was $3,592,689, or 3.5 percent more than budgeted.

The highs and lows in the airport numbers are a function of the hit the airport is taking in its regional daily flights as well as the cutback of international service to Amsterdam.

The number of daily scheduled flights by the major air carriers in September was 39, the same number as August. But it was down from July when there were 44 scheduled flights by the majors.

But the number of regional and commuter daily scheduled flights at Memphis International in September, 121, was down five from August and 19 from July.

The mix is the reason the airport met its targets for landed weight in September at 1.9 million pounds including passenger traffic as well as cargo traffic. It took an expected hit of 5.14 percent from September 2011. But the airport’s international passenger counts and its domestic through traffic all took significant drops ranging from 70 percent to 100 percent in the first month of the latest Delta cuts in air service compared to a year ago.

The number of daily scheduled flights at Memphis International Airport was unchanged in September from August, but down from July.

By contrast, domestic enplaned and deplaned passenger counts – those passengers boarding a flight or leaving a flight at Memphis International Airport – dropped 29.4 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively, from September 2011.

Those two passenger counts are the largest categories of passengers at Memphis International Airport.

All international through traffic at the airport went to zero starting with the August numbers. A year ago through traffic had accounted for 418 passengers in August 2011 and 236 in September 2011. Enplaned and deplaned international passengers fell sharply, as expected with what Delta is calling a “seasonal” end to the Amsterdam service.

Delta’s enplaned and deplaned international passenger counts went from 2,906 and 3,226, respectively, in August to 172 and 200 in September. Jazz Air LP is now the airport’s dominant international carrier with 396 enplaned and 353 deplaned in September.

By the broad numbers, Memphis International Airport had 160 scheduled daily flights in September, down 23.8 percent from September 2011 when the airport had 218 scheduled flights. That also compares to 165 scheduled daily flights in August.

The 160 daily flights carried 483,878 passengers for the month, compared to 689,562 in September 2011, a 29.8 percent decrease.

For the first quarter of the fiscal year that began July 1, passenger traffic was 22.8 percent lower than the first quarter of the previous fiscal year, going from 2.2 million a year ago to 1.7 million.

The airport’s cargo handled numbers in September were up 1.89 percent from a year ago at 728.2 million pounds compared to 714.7 million pounds in September 2011. The September number is also up from 762.9 million pounds in August 2012.

For the first quarter of the fiscal year, the cargo numbers were up 2.5 percent, from 2.13 billion pounds to 2.19 billion pounds from the first quarter of the previous fiscal year.