Cheaper flights at MEM could come at another price - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cheaper flights at MEM could come at another price

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A group of anonymous donors launched a "Runway Robbery" ad on the Internet and said 10 billboards will rise on I-240 near the airport this week. A group of anonymous donors launched a "Runway Robbery" ad on the Internet and said 10 billboards will rise on I-240 near the airport this week.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen will ask for a federal investigation into Delta Air Lines' business practices at the Memphis International Airport.

Higher airfares and fewer flights are drawing heavy criticism from Memphis travelers.

"The Airport Authority ought to be standing up for the consumer," Congressman Cohen said after a group of anonymous donors launched a "Runway Robbery" ad on the Internet and said 10 billboards will rise on I-240 near the airport this week.

The airport president says you just might get the lower fares you seek, but you could pay another price instead.

"I'm sure he has the best interest of Memphians at heart," Memphis International Airport President Larry Cox said about the comment made by Congressman Steve Cohen. "We're out there working hard for the citizens of Memphis, Shelby County, and the Mid-South area." 

The "Runway Robbery" logo shows a gun handle with an airplane as its barrel.

While Cohen says that edgy image demonstrates mounting frustration with the Memphis Airport Authority's lack of action to bringing in competition, Cox says a lot is happening behind the scenes.

"We've been very aggressive with our marketing talking to all the airlines to get as much air service as we can," explained Cox.

He says Memphis has kept its hub status amid rising gas prices longer than several other cities.

"We're the smallest city in America to have an airline hub," said Cox.

He says more cuts to Delta flights are coming, but he did confirm Southwest Airlines is coming to Memphis.

"They may get their wish, the hub may go away," he said.

But increasing the number of smaller airline carriers means fewer non-stop flights out of the Bluff City.

"We'll have lower fares, but we will not have the robust air service we've come to enjoy and expect," said Cox.

Cox invites anonymous donors who plan to fund the Runway Robbery billboards on I-240 near the airport this week to meet and talk about what is really happening at the airport.

He says that would clear up a lot of confusion.

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