Mid-South mayors meet to solve airport problem - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South mayors meet to solve airport problem

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The high price of flying out of Memphis has Mid-South mayors getting involved to lower the fares. The high price of flying out of Memphis has Mid-South mayors getting involved to lower the fares.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The high price of flying out of Memphis has Mid-South mayors getting involved to lower the fares.

Experts say global economic forces are to blame for the airport's current situation.

Now Mid-South mayors have joined ranks in hopes of better understanding those forces and how to have a positive impact on them.

"This is not just simply a Memphis issue," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

The Memphis International Airport is plagued by public discontent over high fares, fewer flights and a lack of options.

In fact, many people see driving to Little Rock or Nashville the only option to the Memphis airport.

But an airline economist who addressed the region's mayors at an afternoon meeting suggested discontent is counterproductive.

"It will do you no good to complain publicly or privately about Delta airlines," said Dr. Brian Campbell, an airline economist. "It'll be self-defeating."

Instead, Campbell encouraged the Mid-South mayors to work with Delta.

Campbell said Delta's hub at Memphis International is favorable to business travelers, but leisure flights are subject to a simple tenet of economics.

"The market's small and that's your biggest problem and there's nothing you can do about it," he said.

Delta recently cut more flights, but Larry Cox, the airport's CEO, described it as a blessing in disguise because it will create competition.

"Other legacy network carriers are likely to add service as well as Delta has pulled back," he said. "It gives them an opportunity to fly to all their hubs."

Memphis International is in a vulnerable position and the mayors said that Friday's meeting won't be their last.

"We plan to continue and will continue working together as a region to not only save our airport, but also make sure that it prospers," said Wharton.

Campbell said deregulation in 1978 caused severe consolidation in an industry which is now focused on international flights rather than domestic.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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