You would think that the people of Memphis would be thrilled that they have as much air service as they do. While mid-size city hubs like Pittsburgh and St Louis have seen their hubs gutted, Memphis remains. Oh sure, it has lost a lot of service over the last few years, but it still has a hub with flights to places it should be surprised it can support.
But the residents of Memphis aren’t happy. They think fares are too high. Sure, everyone wants low fares, but I think the people of Memphis won’t like what accompanies those lower fares … a lot fewer flights to a lot fewer destinations. When that happens, they’ll just start complaining again at the lack of service.
Anatomy of a Hub
A hub works because of the mix of local and connecting traffic. You need a strong local base of travelers to pay good fares to fly places nonstop. Then you need connecting traffic to help fill out the rest of the flights. It’s the combination of the two that leads to profitability. Without connections, hubs don’t have enough demand to operate a frequent schedule to all those cities in order to appeal to the all-important business travelers in that town. Meanwhile, there’s never a shortage of connecting traffic, but that fills airplanes with low fares that aren’t profitable without that balance of higher fare local traffic.
In general, connecting traffic is pretty crappy on its own. That’s because there is a lot of competition to get people from one place to another with a stop, and that keeps fares lower. It also means people are paying one price for two flights instead of one, so the costs are higher.
There are some exceptions to this. Places like the US Airways Charlotte hub are well-served by having many connections from smaller cities in the area that act like local markets. Places like Jacksonville, NC or Florence, SC don’t have any other options. Fares are pretty high, even for connecting traffic. So when you have places like that, it can help offset the issue of having lower true local traffic.
Downfall of the Medium Hub
What we have in Memphis is neither a lot of local traffic nor a lot of high fare connecting opportunities. The latter is partially thanks to mergers.
The problem we’ve seen is that as airlines merge, there really isn’t a need to have as many hubs to serve regions. Before Delta and Northwest merged, Northwest had its only access to the south via its Memphis hub. Delta today can serve a lot of the nearby Memphis markets via its megahub in Atlanta. And Atlanta is a much better hub anyway with a lot more local traffic.
Because of that, Memphis, has slowly seen its service erode. With connections able to flow more often over Atlanta, there’s less to go through Memphis. The local traffic is really what should be holding the hub together at this point, because there isn’t much of a need for the operation simply from a connecting standpoint. And the local traffic needs relatively high fares to support the operation since there isn’t the same amount of volume you’d find elsewhere. The fares have to be even higher thanks to the high price of fuel, but that’s not a Memphis-specific issue.
We Want to Fly Nonstop for Cheap
So what we have now is plentiful, high fare service, and the locals don’t like that. They want everything to be cheap. So they’ve created a Facebook page called “Delta Does Memphis” and they’re trying to encourage JetBlue and Southwest to come on in and lower fares. Southwest is technically in the market now via AirTran to Atlanta, but maybe Southwest will do more. Still, that would hardly mean all sunshine and roses for the city.
If JetBlue comes in, it would fly to Boston and/or New York and that’s it. Delta’s Boston flights would probably disappear very quickly if that happened. If Southwest comes in with guns blazing, I’d expect to see flights to places like Baltimore, Chicago, Austin, Kansas City, St Louis, San Antonio, Houston, and Florida. You can say goodbye to Delta’s service in most of Texas and Missouri, and probably some of the marginal Florida flights. (Florida is still a strong draw so it’s not going to disappear until the end times.)
Maybe then you see flights to Phoenix and Vegas with one stop flights to the west coast. Even though Southwest isn’t exactly a super low fare carrier anymore, the additional capacity and resulting fare pressure (they will definitely go down) will probably be enough to kill Delta’s big jets heading west from Memphis.
At this point, the hub really starts to unravel. With the big jets gone from larger cities around the US, the mid-size cities that remain won’t have enough connections to keep going. Some of the closest cities that are going to be almost exclusively connections will fall away – places like Little Rock, Nashville, Birmingham, etc.
But that won’t be the end of it. The remaining mid-size cities will probably be pushed into the red as well. Cities like Indianapolis, Louisville, Oklahoma City, Des Moines, Milwaukee, Omaha and Pittsburgh won’t support flights. This may actually happen anyway as Delta moves to eliminate 50-seat regional jets and upgauge flights. Memphis has a lot of 50-seaters today, and when those go away, some of the remaining routes will have a tough time surviving.
Without connections, the other airline hub cities go away as well. If people in Memphis need to go to Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft Worth, Denver, Houston, or Philadelphia, they’ll end up with better options on other airlines and Delta’s service would whither.
With these cities gone, it’s hard to imagine how small cities would continue to see service. Bye, bye Baton Rouge. Farewell, Ft Smith. See ya, Shreveport. So long Springfield.
What are we left with? Well, Memphis would look much like any other city in the Delta network that isn’t a hub. There would still be service to other Delta hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York/LaGuardia and Salt Lake City. There might be a few legacy routes that hang around, similar to what we see in St Louis up the road with American. Some Florida flights would probably stay, Washington/National might still keep service, and maybe LA would be able to hang on to a flight if it’s lucky. But there won’t be much left.
Out of the Ashes
Once the hub is dismantled, then what does Memphis air service look like? Maybe Spirit comes in with a couple flights, JetBlue could as well. But it will be very minor stuff. The only airline that has the potential to be able to add substantial service is Southwest, but I wouldn’t expect a ton. With pretty good service in Nashville 200 miles east and St Louis 300 miles north, Southwest isn’t likely going to be looking to flow a lot of traffic through Memphis.
Maybe Memphis looks like Pittsburgh for Southwest, a city with flights to Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, and Tampa. I assume there would be Texas in there as well considering the geography of Memphis as compared to Pittsburgh, but you’ll be able to count the number of destinations without needing to use your toes.
For people who want to go to those cities, that’s great. But for those who wanted to fly everywhere else, nonstop service will be gone. And will the fares be that much lower anyway? Oh they’ll probably be somewhat lower in those markets which are still served, but Southwest is hardly the cheapest operator around these days.
There’s no guarantee that the Delta hub will stay even if this scenario doesn’t play out. With its plan to eliminate a ton of 50-seat aircraft and replace them with larger airplanes, Memphis may already be in jeopardy. But the fix isn’t going to be lower fares, so don’t expect Delta to spearhead that effort. Instead, if lower fares come from low cost carriers, that will probably just push the hub into the grave.
They say the grass is always greener, right? Yes, Memphis might be happy with lower fares, but will it feel that way when it has a lot fewer flights to a lot fewer places?
I like your post a lot; you do a great job describing hub dynamics and the domino effect that can quickly lead a reasonable-size hub of ~250 flights/day down to just another spoke. We’ve seen it play out so many times just in the last few years: PIT, LAS, STL, currently in progress in CVG, and perhaps just beginning in CLE.
I’m curious for your conjecture on the role of PHL in a potential AA/US combination. I’ve read a lot of speculation on the internet but not much backed up with thoughtful analysis.
I’m having trouble predicting how PHL would play out b/c:
– LGA/JFK is a just up the road and seems like a market that the combined carrier would want to aggressively compete in and take back share from DL
– Yet PHL is itself a strong O&D market, one of the largest cities in the US
– Connections are critical to making many marginal routes out of both cities (to smaller European cities, Caribbean islands, small Northeast communities) but doesn’t seem to make sense to offer connections over both PHL and NYC
My sense is PHL would ultimately downsize as a hub, retaining service to just the bigger markets (Boston, west coast, major European cities) but smaller destinations close to home (CAK, ALB, ABE, BGR, ITH, ROA, SBY, PHF, AVP, ILM, etc.) and afar (ATH, GLA, LIS, MAN) will lose service, even if a B6 or WN comes in and picks up some of the bigger pieces.
The real loser won’t be PHL itself so much as a handful of smaller Northeast markets for which a US Airways Dash-8 or CRJ to Philly is really their only connection to the world (completing a transition over the last 10 years away from these regional small regional markets, which used to have a US link to PIT, AA/Business Express to NYC or BOS, etc.). Now it’ll be a 2-3 hour drive to NYC, BOS, or PHL to catch a plane.
Eric – My opinion is that Philly has a very strong position in the merged airline. American simply doesn’t have very many slots at JFK and LaGuardia to adequately serve nearly as many cities as US Airways can from Philly. So there’s no way to really continue to serve the Northeast well without a strong presence in Philly.
I would be more concerned about NYC. My guess is that US Airways would use those slots to focus on what really matters in NYC. Big international cities with strong local demand, large business destinations in the US, etc. Maybe some of the slots get sold off and a codeshare with JetBlue tightens up further. I’m not sure, but I don’t worry about Philly.
Not to drift the conversation already, but every time I’ve been through Detroit it seemed there were a ton of 50 seaters as far as the eye can see. I wonder how this will all shake out. Detroit is a nice facility with a ton of international flying but I always wondered if get would get reduced any.
You would think Memphis would be a good choice to connect people between the west and south since who wants to fly to Atlanta to double back to Mississippi or other cities in that area. You would think DL would want to hold onto that to free up ATL for other service. I know I would rather use one of the hubs between California and the south if it meant having to double back to far from ATL.
I thought the costs were low to operate at MEM because of the Fedex hub so that should help keep service even if by someone new to the airport.
Maybe the locals can start of Air Elvis :-)
I hope Air Elvis uses CV-880 Lisa Marie.
David – The costs to operate at Memphis are very low in general, and I believe Memphis is also one of the few airports to not charge a PFC. So operating cost isn’t an issue there – it’s revenue generation.
CVG spent years courting LCCs too. Not only did they not get any LCCs but they watched DL’s hub withered into near nonexistence. Of course, much of that was due to the merger w/ NW and other economic issues but it is worth noting. Additionally, metro Memphis is a smaller O&D location than the metro Cincinnati area. I’m afraid that, no matter what happens, the end result is going to be the same.
Memphis has one small advantage, though, and that is that there is some demand for tourism there. Cincinnati, not so much… That may not keep hub service, but should attract the LCCs and maybe a little more variety than your ordinary de-hubbed city. Thinking logically, that is. I am not sure logic has much to do with airline schedules.
When Northwest invaded the south through Memphis, that was great. There was actually a viable choice compared to the lousy service and lousy fares from US and Delta in that day.
I hope MEM’s costs are also lower than CVG
There is not a large tourism base in Memphis….it’s mostly a drive-to city and the only tourist attraction is Graceland, home of the long-dead Elvis, which is located in a terrible part of town. Beale Street is downtown but there is a lot of crime in Memphis, and Tunica, Mississippi is 35 miles to the south for casinos.
As a traveler through both CVG and MEM, both seem to have about the same quality and quantity of tourist attractions. I have heard from several transportation sources that MEM passenger traffic breaks down into 20% local tourism and 80% flight connection. Those numbers predate the economic downturn. With the large flight reductions, I can’t imagine the financial draw to have improved for commercial flying into MEM.
To be fair, maybe CVG got the LCCs at other airports, as it was “island hopped” as a fortress hob. While the LCCs didn’t pick CVG, they did pick nearly all of the much smaller airports within a 2-hour drive of Cinci- Indy, Dayton, Columbus, Lexington, Louisville, etc.
Any of those, especially Dayton (only a 1 hour drive from the wealthier ‘burbs north of the beltway, versus nearly as long of a drive from there through downtown traffic, across a major river, and over to CVG), are much cheaper options, easier to get in/out of the airport, and not that much less convenient for many people.
Very good points on the LCCs surrounding CVG and the costs at MEM compared to CVG. The one thing I have noticed is that there does not appear to be much middle ground. Most airports are either full-blown hubs they just have service to each airline’s hubs.
Maybe I’m off base here, but it semes as the few mega carriers consolidate, the MEM’s, CVG’s & Cle’s in the hub world will vanish driving traffic to the DTW’s, JFK’s & ORD’s. This will cause some passenger traffic to flow counter intuitively i, e you will need to fly east when you want to go west or something like that. This will cause travel time to increase & push some potential flyers away since they could get where they want to go faster if they drove instead.
“Once the hub is dismantled, then what does Memphis air service look like?” . . . I can see the future, and it looks a lot like STL and CVG.
If I’m a citizen of CLT (I’m not), I’d be looking very carefully at what’s playing out at hubs in mid-sized cities across the country and doing EVERYTHING I can to protect their excellent (and currently strong) hub.
A potential topic of future exploration for Cranky: is there any correlation between massive infrastructure build and de-hubbing. Every time I fly through PIT (major new terminal), CVG or STL (new runways), I wonder if the costs of those projects had significant impact on the ultimate demise of the hub. And – just as important – how can other cities build the necessarily
Oops. I hit “leave comment” fast. To finish . . .
And ? just as important ? how can other cities build the necessary capacity without undermining the long-term viability of their hub? Clearly a tough balance.
Will – I see Charlotte as something very different for one reason – location. Memphis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, etc are all in places where there are better hubs nearby to serve the population. But in the south, Atlanta is the clear #1. After that, there really isn’t anything. Miami is not a domestic connecting hub – great or Latin but that’s it. So Charlotte has the ability to attract a lot of high fare connecting traffic since the only other option is Atlanta. That doesn’t mean Charlotte won’t shrink but it would seem to protect its status as a hub.
As for new infrastructure, there is definitely a correlation. It’s a simple equation – revenue minus costs has to be positive. If airports start pushing large costs on to the airline from infrastructure projects, then it means the revenue threshold is much higher.
We’re sweating bullets in CLE over the same basic situation. Thanks to the United/Continental merger, what’s the long-term prognosis of the United mini-hub in CLE; where we’re surrounded by bigger hubs at EWR, ORD, and IAD?
Flying through ORD or EWR is a nightmare already. All it takes is one thunderstorm or half an inch of snow and the schedule is pretty much shot for the rest of the day. Everyone I know has their share of O’Hare horror stories. If United closes down the Cleveland hub, a lot of us will look elsewhere rather than retain our allegiance to United/Continental.
Hopkins certainly isn’t a super-fancy airport, but it’s functional and usually runs on-time. We sure hope that the O&D traffic in Cleveland is great enough and the airport management is smart enough, to keep the hub intact…
Joe_C – I would be worried about Cleveland for sure. Chicago, Newark, and Dulles combined can serve pretty much everything that Cleveland serves today. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a larger than average operation there, but I would only expect things to shrink there.
This native of Cleveland is also expecting to see the UA/CO operation dwindle over time, basically down to the minimum requirements for staffing and flights that the Ohio governor worked out with UA/CO management at the time of the merger (in exchange for letting them out of other contractual provisions that existed at the time). Can’t recall any of the details at this time but it will at least provide for an orderly and planned retraction as opposed to the years of questions and double talk that surround most hub retractions.
“The problem we?ve seen is that as airlines merge, there really isn?t a need to have as many hubs to serve regions.” Might PHX be in a similar situation should the USAir / AA merger occur or does PHX have enough local traffic to keep it viable?
Where would the combined US/AA west coast traffic connect through? We already know LAX would not be a contender.
Doug Stephan – I don’t see Phoenix in a similar place, but it would probably shrink in a merger. It’s still a hub that works and there is no better alternative. LAX being in the corner of the country makes for a lousy domestic hub (like Boston and Miami). Plus, with its costs about to skyrocket, it’s going to be less and less attractive to domestic operators. Dallas is too far east to serve much of the intra-West. So there is still a place for Phoenix.
This is a bit of a tangent, but while we’re talking about hubs, where does Alaska’s Seattle hub fall?
I’m thinking it’s like Charlotte as it has feed from small Pacific Northwest and Alaska cities that act price wise like local traffic, but there also are cheap flights to Denver, San Francisco, and elsewhere. What do you think CF?
Seattle has boatloads (pun intended) of leisure traffic in the summer, lots of business travel, proximity to a large Canadian city, and a decent Asian gateway. I think it’s in better shape than CLT.
Seattle is a large enough city that it has significant O/D traffic, and there isn’t much alternative, especially when flying to Alaska.
Nick – I think Seattle is the outlier when I talk about bad hubs in the corners. As you say, Seattle has a lot of small markets surrounding the area which act as local traffic from a pricing perspective. Seattle is also the major jumping off point for Alaska, which is a big market for passengers during the summer and cargo year round. So it’s not a bad place, and of course, there is good corporate traffic there as well to balance out the connections with local traffic.
I think that CLT has more local O&D traffic than MEM or some of the other mid-sized cities cited. CLT has quite a few Fortune 500 firms HQ’d there, not to mention BofA.
DTW has a great hub airport and a lot of local traffic. It is easy to forget how HUGE the Big 3 are (even with cuts over the years) with vast international operations. Throw in a couple of other HQs and you have a fairly robust business environment. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Detroit proper is DTW as far as airport traffic is concerned – have to look at it regionally.
The same can be said of Houston. A low-cost carrier came knocking, they accepted, and now they are losing service. Of course their hub is much larger than Memphis and not at risk of disappearing, but it’s the same concept. You can have either low fares or lots of nonstop service, but not both.
Jim: “A low-cost carrier came knocking, they accepted, and now they are losing service.”
Me: Although the idiots at UA/CO want you to believe these two facts are related, it is more likely true that UA/CO is using Houston’s approval of an international facility at HOU as a pathetic attempt to make up a justification for cuts that were already in the works. How does WN’s operating HOU-Mexico flights affect UA/CO doing Auckland-IAH?
“How does WN?s operating HOU-Mexico flights affect UA/CO doing Auckland-IAH?”
NZ doesn’t currently have a direct link to Mexico or most of South America (Barring the LAN connection to SCL). IAH was probably the ideal hub for this sort of connection, however with competition to Mexico from WN, I there is less of an incentive for them to start this service. There are plenty of other routes that could profit from a 787, and the increased competition may well have tilted the scales away from this route.
I don’t think its a stretch to say that nearly every international passenger from Hobby is one won over from UA at IAH. In the end, UA straight up told Houston that they would make cuts if WN’s plan was approved. Although I agree that UA used the incident as an “out” as far as the workforce cuts, it is almost guaranteed that the expansion at Hobby will negatively affect UA’s IAH hub. If these cuts were going to happen anyways, it would make even MORE sense to make them after the decision.
That is actually a huge stretch. Southwest has a lot of flights going to and through Hobby. Those people aren’t looking exclusively, or at all, to UA through IAH to get to Mexico…
UA was being petulant.
Petulant is an understatement. UA/CO won the coveted “Cranky Jackass” aware for trying to blame its IAH cutbacks on WN/HOU:
So what you’re saying is that NZ has an excellent link to South America on its best carrier. Non-stop to SCL and one stop to most major cities on the continent.
And really, except for Mexico, it’s extremely inefficient routing to go from NZ to anywhere in Latin America via the United States.
Jim – I see no parallel between the two situations. Houston is one of the largest cities in the US with tremendous local traffic. That is nothing like Memphis at all. Meanwhile, Southwest has served Houston since day one of its operation so it’s not like Southwest just came into town. Continental built up that operation knowing that Southwest was there (after unsuccessfully trying to kill it many, many times).
I wonder if Delta will try to drive new entrants out of the market with predatory pricing, like they did in the past at CVG. My guess is no, they probably don’t care anymore.
STL is a slightly different story post hub. It has more passengers now than either Memphis, Cincinatti, or Cleveland even though it doesn’t have a hub anymore. It’s service with the help of southwest has drastically improved. True, one has to connect to go to far cities like Portland or San Diego or to small Midwest cities like sioux falls or des Moines. But to most major cities STL has good service and in fact often will overlap with the hub carriers to cities like EWR, LGA, DEN, MSP, PHL, DTW, and to cities like Houston and Dallas
I believe FedEx is based in and operates a major hub at Memphis. Obviously they don’t carry any passenger traffic, but does the presence of FedEx there create any cost or logistic benefits (or costs) for airlines that are operating in Memphis?
Great question, would love to hear Brett’s opinion on this and how FedEx & UPS affect the cost for pax airlines at their major cargo hubs. Surely they must pay a bit for runways etc, but is it enough to subsidize pax aircraft and to what extent?
I don’t see much connection. For example, Louisville has pretty sparse passenger service, mostly regional jets to hubs and a little WN; and UPS’s California hub, Ontario, has been losing service for years.
Having worked for NWA in the early 2000s, I can attest that having FedEx on the property kept PFC and landing fees down. Major unskd mx issues were handled by FedEx…so the expense of having a major machine shop in MEM was not an issue. Even with those favorable financial metrics in place, the hub added little to the bottom line. In 1999/2000 (good economic times) we generated more revenue from the daily departures off the ratty old ‘C’ concourse at DTW than daily ops at MEM. It was Southern>Republic>NWA’s toehold in the southeast…that’s about it. ATL was not an option with DL and EA (later just DL) owning the market and 20 years ago BNA was about half the size of what it is today. MEM was the ‘least worse’ option at the time. Now they have other options and…well….the rightsizing is underway.
My hometown airport….SDF…hosts mx operations for Compass, Republic and Vision thanks to the facilities/expertise of the UPS Worldport.
freqflyercoll – The more service an airport has of any kind, the better. That can help fund the cost of operations. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, Memphis doesn’t have a cost problem.
Really?…Round trip fare from Memphis to Dallas…@$1200; from Nashville @$300
Round trip fare to Nashville…@$900…from Atlanta or Dallas… a whole lot less. The Delta hub’s high fares in Memphis are choking off convention and new business development…what good is it to have a hub where you can fly non-stop to most major US cities but you can’t afford the ticket? Delta is dismantling the Memphis hub with high fares and fewer flights and moving many of these flights to the over crowded and dysfunctional Atlanta hub…sure you need critical mass to have a successful hub…but in Atlanta, it is getting to the point where you are getting CRIPPLING mass. With over 75% of the passenger using Atlanta to transfer…Memphis’ hub could easily come in and reduce the congestion at Atlanta.
The article also mentioned O&D at Memphis. Memphis has about the same O&D as Cincinnati. And what both cities have in common are high air fares….the highest in the nation If you want to have more O&D…reduce the air fares!
Memphis is a poor city that is seeing its population decline. It’s mostly a drive-to destination that lacks a big tourism or convention market. It also is not a big corporate city. With weak O&D, the writing is clearly on the wall for MEM. Delta will cut even more flights soon, especially with Pinnacle’s bankruptcy and the demise of the 50 seat regional jets that make up 75% of all DL flights from Memphis. The lone flight to Amsterdam is toast after this fall. Atlanta is far more efficient, so that is no real need for anything other than a small focus city at MEM.
Memphis is just too small a city to support an airline hub. The o&d numbers are dismal. Delta is smart to move things to Atlanta where the connection possibilities are endless.
Memphis and the surrounding areas of Arkansas and Miss. are actually losing population. Memphis is also facing a lot of crime and other problems, thus it is not a big destination of business, conventions or tourists. Not at all surprised that Delta is pulling flights from MEM.
Delta is definitely going to continue paring down MEM. The airport has dropped 1.3 million annual passengers over the past year due to the flight reductions already made. Most MEM flying is on 50 seat RJs, and DL is working hard to eliminate them. I honestly don’t see many other airlines looking at MEM, in spite of cash incentives for new service from the airport authority there. The O&D stats for MEM are anemic. AirTran has a few (maybe 4) daily flights to ATL, but Southwest has not even announced a start date for serving MEM. In a year, MEM will be just another spoke in the DL network.
Agreed. The metro area’s population is only 1.3 million. That’s 44th nationally, behind metro areas like Sacramento, Grand Rapids, OKC, Greensboro, Virginia Beach, Jacksonville, Louisville, Raleigh, KC, Indy, etc.
Memphis is by far the smallest metro area that has an airline hub in the US. Salt Lake City is the second smallest (1.75 million in region), but at least it has a geographic advantage, being a good place to connect to the west coast from anywhere further east.
Nashville is a great example of a former hub (AA) that is stronger today than ever. Southwest quickly filled the AA void and today offers about 85 nonstops from BNA. Of course, times are different than the early 1990’s.
Compared to MEM, Nashville and middle Tennessee have a much larger population, plus a more vibrant economy based on strong corporate, and a large tourism and convention market thanks to the large entertainment industry in Nashville.
Memphis flyers routinely drive the 200 miles to BNA to take advantage of Southwest flights and the much better airfares at BNA compared to MEM.
Ok being a native Memphian let me add and correct a few facts. As Cranky said-the costs or low in MEM $5.00 per passenger and no PFC. O&D is about the same as CVG-7500 per day, with a potential O&D pax going to BNA or LIT to catch SW, or ironically Delta and the connecting in MEM! Tourism Number 1 tourist attraction in TN is Beale Street, number 2 the Smokies, number 3 Graceland. Crime-if Memphis reported crime like most other cities, it ranking would drop into about 20th place-lower than Nashville. Finally, and I know you’ll disagree on this Cranky, but Delta has dropped routes flown by Southern in the 60’s which were viable until 3 years after the DL NW merger. I say they were still viable and profitable, and what is really happening is MEM is taking Delta passengers which smartly try to avoid ATL, and Delta being Delta-“OMG we can’t have that-Everyone must love ATl!”
I started the Delta Does Memphis group on Facebook. I’m in a business where I sell my time. You act as if our options are to pay more for what we have or complain about fewer flights. A large percentage of us are already driving to Little Rock, and even to Nashville, so I don’t think we’re just complaining to be complaining. We’re complaining because we’re being price gouged in a fortress hub by an airline doing it because they can. We also see that while we get happy talk from Delta and our Airport Authority, we are repeating the history at Cincinnati. We are willing to have fewer flights and even sacrifice a few years to get more carriers here.
The airlines have been artificially propping up low fares by reducing employee pay and eliminating/reducing benefits also.