New Leadership, Transparency & Creativity Needed at MSCAA

June 7th, 2012   •   1 comment   


Much has been discussed about our flight options (or lack of) at the Memphis International Airport. Delta has been the target recently of many attacks on the costs and limitations we have for flights in and out of our city. Bashing Delta might be a catharsis for some but the reality is, Delta “owns” Memphis. Delta owns the financing of Pinnacle Airlines. Mark my words: Pinnacle is headed to Minneapolis. Richard Anderson has some real estate to fill and by the way, he’s working on his plan to build up New York, Atlanta and, guess where else? Minnesota. All Delta has to do is convince the credit committee (who will make a recommendation to the bankruptcy court) that the Minneapolis pie is sweeter than ours and BAM! The judgment will be in favor of the best financial deal for Pinnacle long term. Delta gets their new tenant in Minneapolis and Memphis is left holding the bag—a big one. So, in light of this, I’ve been doing some research and talking to some people (like lawyers, accountants, bankers, etc.) and here are the real questions we should be asking (in no particular order):

  • Who approved the bonds for the parking garage at the airport? What law firm worked for the MSCAA? What accounting firm? Who was the underwriter?
  • How does the MSCAA board measure accountability? Is the head of MSCAA being reviewed and how is the performance? Does he have a contract? Is it an “evergreen” contract (yes) and what is his payout?
  • What is the economic impact to businesses of losing 40% of flights in and out of Memphis?
  • What deals have been made by Delta and our MSCAA? Where is the transparency here? Why are we not getting information directly from MSCAA?
  • Who is in charge? If MSCAA is not cutting it, who holds them accountable? Is it a politician? Is it the Board? Are there conflicts on the Board? Who is on the Board? Have we looked at that? Why are there not board terms?
  • How much time does the head of the MSCAA spend at work? What is he doing?
  • I thought we were working on the “Aerotropolis.” What has happened with that?
  • Does Southwest Airlines want to be here? I don’t know the answer. If they’re making tons of money off Memphis already driving to Little Rock and Nashville…why would they move here? They are already here as Air Tran but what are their plans?

These are the questions we should be asking. This is public money. This is our tax money at work for the few in charge and that must change. The problem is not that Delta is “doing Memphis.” The problem is that they can. Weigh in. Be a change agent for transparent government and honesty. We need all the help we can get. And if there are payoffs, and under the table deals, they should be exposed. #MEMfly!

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One comment

  1. Amy Howell says:

    as an update to this post, I have learned that it is true that Pinnacle Airlines is likely leaving–if surviving at all–as Delta reduces regional services to key airports. Memphis better move fast to recruit another airline or try and figure out what plan B is without Delta here. Expect further reduction in flights daily (below 100) and even higher prices as result of no competition. If the airport is our “economic machine” what happens if we fall below a 2nd class city? Don’t wake up as a 2nd class city.

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