Mike…Echo…Mike…Papa…Hotel…India…Sierra, We need choices and we need Memphis to fly as many people in and out as we do packages. No disrespect to our wonderful jewel FedEx but we must get airline options and more choices to our Memphis International Airport. This week I was added—without consent—to a Facebook “group” bashing Delta Airlines and talking negatively about our situation. I am strongly against this and have removed myself from the group. In my opinion, a better strategy is to talk about what we could and should have here in Memphis. Bashing Delta is not constructive and it is frankly bad PR for our city, and we all certainly know we don’t need more of that.
Currently, we have high fares and limited choices for a city our size and for our optimal geographic location (we are truly well centered and should be capitalizing on this in more ways). As a result, many Memphians are going to Nashville and Little Rock to fly on vacations, business, family trips, etc. Recently, I have been talking with clients and business owners who have expressed great dissatisfaction over having to either cough up the money to fly from Memphis or be inconvenienced by adding Arkansas to their travel itinerary. Furthermore, businesses are starting to mumble about moving or looking at other cities for expansion of offices. I talked with one business owner considering moving his sales force to Atlanta or Nashville. REALLY? YES. We cannot afford this as a city. Our airport must be a passenger hub as well as a cargo hub. I have heard rumors that politicians in Tennessee from the past have made deals with Northwest and Delta to keep other airlines out. Oh, if the walls could talk, I’m sure we’d learn a lot. But what matters now is moving our community forward and that means economic development. We cannot have any economic development progress if we cannot get more flight choices and competitive pricing. PERIOD.
Where is our creative thinking? Can’t we get some smaller planes servicing the gulf coast direct from Memphis? Where have all the cowboys gone? If Bobby Cox were still alive, I guarantee you he’d be calling Mayor Wharton and Larry Cox every single day until we had some results. I have been told that this issue is “complex” and that an announcement is forthcoming. Rumor on the street is Southwest Airlines is going to announce flights to a few cities such as Chicago, Boston and Dulles. We’ll see and if this is true and at least that is a start. I have also been told that we have to be careful not to upset Delta. WHAT? Delta has too much control over Memphis and that stifles our ability to be competitive. Memphians should have choices and quality. Our city has too many great things to offer. In an interview with our new University of Memphis head football coach, Justin Fuente told me these words: “One of my first thoughts about Memphis is that it has so much to offer that nobody even knows about.” We have a story to tell and we can’t sell it if people can’t get here. Let’s get Memphis Airborne! #MEMfly