VOL. 129 | NO. 228 | Friday, November 21, 2014
Delta Slashes More Memphis Flights
By Amos Maki
Delta Air Lines will dramatically reduce service at Memphis International Airport once again, delivering another blow to airline employees, local flyers and airport officials.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
Delta has informed the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority that effective Jan. 5, 2015, the airline will cease nonstop flights to Pittsburgh International Airport, New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In addition, Delta will cease its nonstop flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in April.
Delta reports that 84 of its Memphis employees will be affected by the reductions, though the airline said it will offer them positions elsewhere in the company.
“We are disappointed with Delta’s reduction of nonstop flights,” said Scott Brockman, president and CEO of the Airport Authority. “At the same time, these cuts provide opportunities for other airlines to fill the gaps and provide air service to our passengers.”
Travelers still have other options for reaching destinations Delta is eliminating.
American Airlines will continue to offer nonstop service to Dallas/Fort Worth and Reagan National. Southwest Airlines offers nonstop service to Baltimore Washington International and Frontier Airlines recently added six weekly flights to Dallas/Fort Worth.
Delta also confirmed that seasonal nonstop flights to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport will resume on March 4 and to Salt Lake City International Airport on June 5.
While Delta Airlines remains the dominant carrier at Memphis International, its drastic service reductions have opened the door for other options, including low-cost alternatives such as Frontier and Southwest.
Airport Authority officials have been on a mission over the last few years to bring more air service to Memphis International as it makes the shift from an airport dominated by connecting flights from the former Delta hub to one focused on generating origin-and-destination traffic. Since Delta ceased hub operations at Memphis International, all other carriers have expanded service, adding a total of 22 flights.
To further its goal of recruiting more service, the Airport Authority will soon hire a new head of Air Service Research and Development, a position that will be responsible for serving as a liaison between the Airport Authority, airlines and the local community, helping to match the needs of the flying public with new and expanded air service at Memphis International.
Brockman has said some airlines believe Memphis International is an “underserved” airport and that he and other airport officials have been in constant communication with airlines about increasing service to Memphis International.
“We continue to highlight these opportunities to airlines as we relentlessly pursue additional air service for our passengers,” said Brockman.
The increased competition is slowly leading to a reduction in fares.
While fares from Memphis remain some of the most expensive in the nation – the No. 8 highest average round-trip domestic fare at the nation’s 100 busiest airports in the second quarter, according to Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics rankings – they are starting to fall.
While the average national fare increased 2.5 percent from the second quarter of 2013 to $396 this year, fares at Memphis International dropped 4.2 percent over the same period, from an average of $486.24 to $466.05. That was the fifth highest percent change at the 100 airports, trailing behind only Bellingham, Wash.; Savannah/Hilton Head, S.C.; Hartford, Conn.; and Burlington, Vt.