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About cdarr

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  1. Memphis International Airport

    Ultimately, you may be right. But I am not as certain as you are about this. Without significant airfield expansion, ATL simply cannot handle much more traffic without becoming outrageously congested. In addition to passenger frustration (which New Delta may not really care much about), congestion leads to general operation inefficiency (which they certainly will care about financially). A gridlocked airport drives up fuel costs as aircraft have to sit on the ground longer or circle overhead. It leads to higher crew pay. It leads to decreased asset utilization (more aircraft required to fly the same number of flights because the average flight takes longer). If MEM can maintain its low cost structure and possibly offer Delta some other enticements (such as concourse improvements), MEM may have a future as a reliever hub for ATL. Remember, even if this airline does reduce capacity in the near-term, the economy will grow again and so will air traffic. If Delta does zap MEM and CVG and try (unwisely) to cram more traffic into ATL, one has to wonder what impact this would have on AirTran's operation. They may find themselves looking for a less congest connecting-place...perhaps MEM.
  2. Memphis International Airport

    Today's Wall Street Journal reported that under the merger agreement being voted on by the Delta and Northwest boards tomorrow, the new airline (to be named Delta and HQ'd in Atlanta) will NOT eliminate any hubs. That doesn't mean that they wouldn't eliminate hubs in time (like AA did with STL after acquiring TWA). But, if this story proves to be true, MEM will have dodged yet another opportunity to be de-hubbed. Perhaps there is a much more compelling business case for MEM as a passenger hub than many people believe.
  3. Memphis International Airport

    I think NW potentially could grow the hub here, but it is hard to see it reaching anything near the size and stature of DTW/MSP as long as the market is so much smaller. There will always be some correlation between market size and hub size. Unless something drastic happens in the industry, such as slot restrictions and expansion moratoriums in the major cities that would force connecting traffic through smaller markets, nobody is going to run 500 flights per day through a city with a relatively small population base. With current levels of domestic service, additional international flights are indeed a tough sell, although the 12-year success of MEM-AMS provides some hope. The problem with adding MEM-LGW, MEM-CDG or anything to Europe is that it would not result in completely incremental traffic; instead, it would cannibalize at least some of the loads from MEM-AMS. NW could end up with two marginal or unprofitable routes replacing one solidly profitable one. The downgauging of aircraft doesn't alarm me too much. It may not be too impressive a hub with so many mainlines replaced with juiced-up Challengers, but it serves virtually all the same cities it did 6-7 years ago. In the interest of maintaining a viable hub here, I would rather see them operate smaller aircraft profitably than fly equipment in here half-empty. While it was cool back in the day to see them fly in DC10s or even, occasionally, 747s from DTW, you could literally see the cash streaming out of the tailpipes. Now their fleet is much more congruent with their routes. Frankly, I would have put the odds of MEM surviving NW's bankruptcy at about 30%, yet here it is hanging on. It's clear that, over the years, NW sees some consistent value in keeping MEM in the system. I'm sure they'd prefer to have a larger southern market with more immediate potential for population/economic growth, but where would they go? The big markets already have somebody else's hub, and the other medium-sized markets either have too much LCC penetration now or aren't enough of an improvement over MEM to make it worth the move . I'm not privy to their financials, but I've always heard that the cost structure here is low enough to compensate for thin O&D. Unless they decide to give up on the intra-southern traffic, MEM appears to be their only legit option.
  4. Memphis International Airport

    According to this report from MATA, section 4-11, one of the alternatives for routing MATAtrac to the terminal involves using this tunnel. MATAtrac would run south along Airways, then turn east and go through a yet-to-be-built tunnel beneath Runway 18R/36L. That tunnel would link up with the existing tunnel pictured in tennreb's post. The airport's master plan (at least several years ago) used the tunnel for a peoplemover system to connect the terminal with an X-shaped satellite concourse south of the exisitng Concourse B. I think that's what it was originally designed for.
  5. Memphis International Airport

    Here's something to ponder. The conventional wisdom has always been that LCC growth at MEM puts the NW hub in jeopardy (more competition, NW forced to cut fares to maintain marketshare, hub less profitable). It has been suggested that the airport authority has been "dragging its feet" in getting SWA to come in here for fear that it will send NW packing. However, NW share of the O&D market is reported to be relatively low for a fortress hub. Given this fact and the small size of the Memphis market to begin with, the case can be made that NW retains the MEM hub largely for factors other than O&D traffic - geography, weather, good partnership with the airport, uncongested, low operating costs, too expensive to move elsewhere and no suitable alternatives without taking on even greater competition. So...if a disproportionately large share of NW traffic at MEM is connecting, is it possible (somewhat ironically) that NW's weak O&D share might actually make it less sensitive to LCC penetration?
  6. Memphis International Airport

    What's cool is that when you look at Frontier's route map with the MEM flights added, you have an almost perfect "flower" of flights radiating out from DEN - except MEM-LAS which cuts abrubtly across the southern half of the network. In fact, the map shows only 4 city-pairs that don't fly in/out Denver...and Memphis has two of them!
  7. Memphis International Airport

    You think maybe Frontier is lining up to do what Southwest did in Nashville after American pulled out? Could be. I would have thought AirTran would be in position to do that, but Frontier is entering the market in a bigger way.
  8. Memphis International Airport

    Yes, interesting discussion. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. It is probably wise for the community to wait at least a year before making any serious commitments to airport improvements. Until we know the future of the NW hub, we don't really know what to invest in. If NW or a merged airline is willing to maintain its commitment to MEM through a long-term lease renewal, a commitment should be made to fund major enhancements for connecting traffic - for example: widening the corridors of the B Concourse and raising the ceilings; a diagonal extension of the C Concourse to the south (as was done 6-7 years ago with Concourse A); possibly a new satellite terminal and people-mover system. If, on the other hand, MEM loses its hub status, the majority of terminal-related investments needs to go towards landside improvements that will improve the overall experience of arriving/departing passengers. Structural improvements would need to be of a different nature. Gates would need to be fewer, but larger and more comfortable. A larger waiting area is needed for people meeting arriving passengers (instead of forcing them to congregate at the end of the security area). Perhaps the A and C terminals could be enlarged to provide additional ticketing space.
  9. Memphis International Airport

    Today's Wall Street Journal reports "talks about a possible merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines Corp. have been put on hold, without a framework for a deal and without specific plans for further negotiations, according to people familiar with the thinking of both sides." The same article also says "A combination of Delta and Northwest remains 'a very viable option,' according to one person close to the situation, but isn't likely to be pursued until both airlines emerge from bankruptcy protection this year, if ever." While a NW/DL merger might still happen, it doesn't appear to be imminent. And once the two carriers emerge from bankruptcy, I think the liklihood of them merging with anybody will decrease significantly...especially if they are able to quickly return to profitability. Consider that the two most recent mergers/acquisitions of large U.S. airlines (American/TWA and America West/US Airways) involved one carrier in bankruptcy.
  10. Memphis International Airport

    Great post, jmduke. Always like to hear your take on this stuff. Lexy...if you can't carry on an intelligent debate here without disparaging somebody, stay over on the Nashville board. You don't seem able to argue back and forth on an issue without getting personal. Who cares whether you or I am an expert at this stuff? If expert status was required here, few of us would be able to post about anything.
  11. Memphis International Airport

    I guess you and I are dissimilar in that regard.
  12. Memphis International Airport

    Yeah, I'd like to hear his source too. I can't imagine what kind of partnership FX would have with NW/DL or Air France that would motivate them to keep the hub around. If MEM had any chance of keeping its hub in the event of a merger, it would be (as you said) in relieving ATL. Certainly there would be overall capacity reductions, but I just can't see how that airline could realistically expect to cram all the additional connecting traffic from MEM (and some from CVG if they closed it) through an already slot-constrained Hartsfield. There are financial penalties for running their connecting traffic through a congested hub - especially higher fuel burn due to longer taxi/hold times. Passengers don't like all the crowds, delays and long walking distances inherent in mega-hubs either.
  13. Memphis International Airport

    I totally agree. Losing direct international service would be the worst long-term affect of losing the hub. MEM-AMS has been an unquestioned success. The flight has averaged load factors of 80-90% since its inception in 1995, and the recent switch to A330 equipment has only increased its popularity. Also not widely discussed is that about half of the daily passengers on that flight are going to/from Memphis, rather than connecting. Unfortunately, the 150 or so local passengers on the flight wouldn't be enough to keep it going - we still need the connecting passengers that the hub provides.
  14. Memphis International Airport

    I make a nice living in the airline industry, for whatever that's worth. Lexy, I did not make your comments into something they were not. You were cleary dumbfounded that I could think a carrier would fly something as big as a 757 into MEM post-NW. As I tried to demonstrate in my follow-up, it is not only possible but in fact is happening in other mid-sized markets. I never said MEM would have larger aircraft because of higher O&D...I said it was possible because MEM-to-hub passenger loads would go up. This is absolutely true because, without all the NW hub non-stops, MEM-to-hub flights would be about the only way to get anywhere! If you're flying MEM-JAX, MEM-IND, MEM-AUS or any number of other routes today via a NW nonstop, you will have to fly through ATL, DFW, DTW etc. if/when the NW hub goes away. Your earlier message attempted to compare BNA's current situation (i.e. no AA 757s) to MEM's situation immediately post-NW hub. My argument was that you cannot use the current BNA situation to refute the possibility of larger-gauged aircraft flying into MEM. The availability of SWA direct flights to multiple destinations certainly diminishes the need for BNA passengers to go through legacy hubs. MEM will not have that benefit immediately after de-hubbing.
  15. Memphis International Airport

    First of all, I said "maybe some 757s". I wouldn't expect to see 757 after 757 flying in here from ATL. During peak times, however, the passenger loads may be sufficient between MEM and some major hubs (esp. ATL, DTW an DFW) to justify use of larger equipment. Without all those direct flights to 70-80 destinations anymore, passenger loads between MEM and the hubs will actually increase. Second, you cannot compare a de-hubbed MEM to the situation at BNA. BNA has a mini-hub or, at the very least, focus city status with SWA. The frequencies and selection of destinations offered by SWA decreases the amount of traffic that would otherwise have to go through the legacy carriers hubs. Thus, AA, DL etc. don't need the larger gauge 757s. MEM, by contrast, would have to rely more on the hubs. Third, use of 757 for short-haul service between hubs and midsized markets is not unheard of. AA currently has 757 service from DFW to Austin and Tulsa. DL uses them between ATL and Jacksonville, New Orleans, Pensacola, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond and Savannah. In fact, I believe Nashville had 757 service to ATL within the past few years. If you zoom into the BNA terminal on Google Earth, you'll see a Delta 757 parked at the B Concourse.