Memphis International Airport

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Memphis International Airport
Memphis Intl Airport Logo.svg
Memphis International Airport.png
2013 USGS aerial photo
WMO: 72334
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Memphis–Shelby County Airport Authority
Serves Memphis, Tennessee
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 341 ft / 104 m
Coordinates 35°02′33″N 089°58′36″W / 35.04250°N 89.97667°W / 35.04250; -89.97667Coordinates: 35°02′33″N 089°58′36″W / 35.04250°N 89.97667°W / 35.04250; -89.97667
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
MEM is located in Tennessee
Location within Tennessee
Direction Length Surface
ft m
18C/36C 11,120 3,389 Concrete
18L/36R 9,000 2,743 Concrete
18R/36L 9,320 2,841 Concrete
9/27 8,946 2,727 Concrete
Statistics (2013)
Aircraft operations 225,592
Based aircraft 93
Passengers 3.57 million
Sources: Bureau of Transportation Statistics[2]

Memphis International Airport (IATA: MEMICAO: KMEMFAA LID: MEM) is a civil-military airport seven miles (11.2 km) southeast of downtown Memphis, in Shelby County, Tennessee.

Memphis International Airport is home to the FedEx Express global hub, which processes many of the company's packages.[3] Nonstop FedEx destinations from Memphis include cities across the continental U.S., Europe, Middle East, Asia and South America. From 1993 to 2009 Memphis had the largest cargo operations of any airport worldwide. MEM dropped into second position in 2010, behind Hong Kong; however, it remained the busiest cargo airport in the United States.[4]

As of 2014, Memphis International Airport had a passenger count of 3.57 million, which is a steep 22% decline from the 2013 year.[5] Delta Air Lines dropped Memphis as a hub airport after continually reducing flights following its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines. As of July 2014 MEM averaged 83 total passenger flights per day on all of the airlines serving the city. The airport has since added several airlines, including Southwest and Allegiant, which has increased competition among the carriers. Since Delta's departure as a hub operation, average round trip prices have declined significantly. The July-September 2014 quarter alone saw a 4.7% decline from the quarter a year earlier.[6]


Memphis Municipal Airport in 1962
1970s photograph showing the new terminal which opened in 1963.
Concourse B at Memphis International Airport

Memphis Municipal Airport opened[when?] on a 200-acre (81 ha) plot of farmland just over seven miles (11 km) from downtown Memphis. During its early years the airport had three hangars and an unpaved runway; passenger and air mail service was provided by American Airlines and Chicago and Southern Air Lines (acquired by Delta Air Lines in 1953). In 1939 Eastern Air Lines arrived; that March Eastern had one departure a day to Muscle Shoals and beyond, American had four east/west and C&S had four north/south.

During World War II the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command 4th Ferrying Group used Memphis while sending new aircraft overseas. In April 1951 the runways were 6000-ft 2/20, 6530-ft 9/27, 4370-ft 14/32 and 4950-ft 17/35 (the airport was all north of Winchester Rd during the 1950s[7])

The April 1957 OAG shows 64 weekday departures: 25 on Delta, 18 American, 7 Southern, 5 Eastern, 4 Braniff, 3 Trans-Texas and 2 Capital. American DC-6s flew nonstop to Washington and New York, but westward nonstops didn't reach beyond Ft Worth and Kansas City until American started Los Angeles in 1964. The first scheduled jets were Delta 880s ORD-MEM-MSY and back, starting in July–August 1960.

The current terminal was designed by Mann & Harrover and cost $6.5 million. It opened on June 7, 1963 and Memphis Municipal changed its name to Memphis International in 1969, but the airport had no non-stop international flights until 1985–86 when Republic Airlines began flights to Mexico. The terminal was expanded for $31.6 million in 1974, adding two new concourses and extending the others, which were designed by Roy P. Harrover & Associates.[8] The airport had no non-stop inter-continental flights until 1995 when KLM began service to Amsterdam. Flights to Amsterdam ended on September 3, 2012, part of Delta's cutbacks in Memphis,[9] this leaves Cancun Mexico the only scheduled international flights from Memphis, operated seasonally by Delta and Aeromexico/Bahamasair on behalf of Vacation Express.

Southern Airways was an important regional carrier at Memphis in the 1960s; it merged into Republic Airlines in 1979 as the first large merger after the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act. With the dismantling of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) flight approval requirements, airlines began developing around a large hub model as opposed to the former point-to-point networks that were common before deregulation. Republic established Memphis as a hub operation in 1985 before merging into Northwest Airlines in 1986.[10] In 2008 Delta Air Lines bought Northwest.

Federal Express (now FedEx Express) began operations in Memphis in 1973. It opened its current "SuperHub" facility on the north side of the airport in 1981.

In 2008 the airport began expanding its control tower and parking garages. The new tower cost $72.6 million and is 336 feet tall, more than double the old tower height.[11] An $81 million, 7-story parking garage replaced two surface lots adding 6,500 parking spaces. $11 million was spent on a covered moving walkway between the garages and the terminal.[12]

Since 2009 the airport has been a small hub for small regional airline SeaPort Airlines, which has single-engine flights to communities in Arkansas through the Essential Air Service program. SeaPort Airlines is based at the private aviation terminal, not the main passenger terminal.[13]

In 2014, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority announced a planned $114 million renovation of the airport. This renovation will include demolishing the largely-vacant south ends of concourses A and C, which will allow aircraft to more easily access the larger B concourse. The remainder of the A and C concourses will remain and be ready to use for any potential growth in the future. In addition, the plan calls for the widening and modernization of the B concourse, which most flights will be directed to when the renovation is complete. The renovation, expected to start in late 2015 and end around 2020, will leave the airport with about 60 gates.[14]


Memphis International Airport is governed by the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority. Board of directors consist of five members appointed by the Memphis mayor and two members nominated by the Shelby County mayor. All board members are confirmed by the Memphis City Council.[15]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Memphis International Airport covers 3,900 acres (1,600 ha) and has four paved runways:[16]

  • 18C/36C: 11,120 ft × 150 ft (3,389 m × 46 m) Concrete
  • 18L/36R: 9,000 ft × 150 ft (2,743 m × 46 m) Concrete
  • 18R/36L: 9,320 ft × 150 ft (2,841 m × 46 m) Concrete
  • 9/27: 8,946 ft × 150 ft (2,727 m × 46 m) Concrete.

Runway 9/27[17] reopened for traffic on November 30, 2009 after nine months of resurfacing. The new runway has a more durable concrete surface, and opened in time for the peak of the FedEx shipping season.

Control tower at Memphis International Airport

For the 12-month period ending May 31, 2014 the airport had 225,592 aircraft operations, an average of 618 per day: 71% scheduled commercial, 18% air taxi, 10% general aviation, and 1% military. At that time there were 93 aircraft based at this airport: 48% jet, 15% multi-engine, 17% single-engine, 10% military, and 10% helicopter.[16]

The Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) is on the airport grounds at 3229 Democrat Road, TN 38118.

Terminals, airlines, and destinations[edit]

Delta Air Lines airplanes at Memphis International Airport
  • Terminal A contains 6 gates: A21, A25, A27, A29, A31 and A33. Terminal A is used currently by Southwest Airlines and it will soon be joined by Allegiant Air.
  • Terminal B contains 42 gates: B1-B20, B22-B43. Terminal B serves all international arrivals and requires travelers to pass through a TSA security checkpoint after clearing customs. This is required because the customs hall exits into the concourse instead of the main lobby. Delta operates a Delta Sky Club lounge in Terminal B.
  • Terminal C contains 18 gates: C1-C5, C7-C11, C12A/C12B, C14A/C14B, C16, C18, C20 and C22. Terminal C is currently only used by American, Frontier, United and US Airways.
Airlines Destinations Terminal
Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford (all begin May 22, 2015) A
American Airlines Dallas/Ft. Worth C
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami C
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Seasonal: Cancun, Detroit, Las Vegas
Delta Connection Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Orlando, Salt Lake City
Frontier Airlines Denver
Seasonal: Washington-Dulles
SeaPort Airlines El Dorado (AR), Greenville (MS), Harrison (AR), Hot Springs (AR), Jackson (TN), Tupelo Signature
Southern Airways Express Atlanta-Peachtree, Chattanooga, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Knoxville, Madison (MS), Oxford (MS), Panama City Beach Signature
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas-Love (begins April 8, 2015), Houston–Hobby, Orlando, Tampa A
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark C
US Airways Charlotte C
US Airways Express Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington–National C
  • ^1 All airlines (except charters) and concessions will relocate to Concourse B in 2015
  • ^2 The airport is currently undergoing a massive $114 million consolidation/renovation that will last until 2020.
  • ^3 Ultimate Air Shuttle has interest to add service to Cincinnati in May, but no firm information has been released.

Air charters[edit]

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Vacation Express
operated by Aeromexico
Seasonal: Cancun B
Vacation Express
operated by Bahamasair
Seasonal: Freeport[18] B

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from MEM (Dec 2013 – Nov 2014)[19]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 373,000 Delta
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 192,000 American
3 Charlotte, NC 158,000 US Airways
4 Chicago, IL (ORD) 137,000 American, United
5 Houston, TX (IAH) 94,000 United
6 Orlando, FL 80,000 Delta, Southwest
7 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 75,000 Delta
8 Chicago, IL (Midway) 73,000 Southwest
9 Detroit, MI 64,000 Delta
10 Denver, CO 63,000 Frontier, United

Cargo airlines[edit]

Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Aguadilla, Albany (NY), Albuquerque, Allentown, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bogotá, Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Burbank, Calgary, Campinas/Viracopos, Casper, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chicago‑O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cologne/Bonn, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Delhi, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubai–International, Edmonton, El Paso, Flint, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, Goa, Grand Forks, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Guadalajara, Harlingen, Harrisburg, Hartford, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntington (WV), Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette, Laredo, Las Vegas, London–Stansted, Los Angeles, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Manchester (NH), Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile (Downtown), Monterrey, Montréal–Mirabel, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newburgh, Norfolk, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Osaka–Kansai, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Peoria, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San Jose (CR), San Juan, Savannah, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Shreveport, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Spokane, Springfield (MO), St. Louis, Syracuse, Tallahassee, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Toluca/Mexico City, Toronto–Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Washington‑Dulles, West Palm Beach, Wichita, Winnipeg
FedEx Feeder
operated by Baron Aviation Services
Atlanta, Dothan, Evansville, Monroe
FedEx Feeder
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
Charleston (WV), Huntsville, Tallahassee, Tulsa
UPS Airlines Louisville


Main article: 164th Airlift Wing

The 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard is based at the co-located Memphis Air National Guard Base, operating C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.[20]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On August 11, 1984, Douglas C-47 N70003 of Aviation Enterprises crashed shortly after take-off from Memphis International Airport on a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight to O'Hare International Airport, Chicago. All three people on board died.[21] A missing spark plug on the port engine caused a loss of power. Maintenance involving the removal of the spark plugs had been performed the previous day.[22]
  • On April 7, 1994, FedEx Flight 705 experienced an attempted hijacking shortly after takeoff. FedEx employee Auburn Calloway tried to hijack the plane in order to crash it into the FedEx hub at Memphis International, in a Kamikaze-style attack. The crew fought him off and returned to Memphis.
  • On December 18, 2003, FedEx Express Flight 647 veered off the runway after the landing gear collapsed upon landing from Oakland International Airport (OAK). The aircraft was immediately engulfed in flames. All 5 crew members escaped by exiting via the cockpit window.
  • On July 28, 2006, FedEx Flight 630's landing gear collapsed upon landing at Memphis International Airport after a flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. After coming to a stop, the plane caught fire, engulfing the left wing and engine. While the three crew members sustained injuries, they all survived.


  1. ^
  2. ^ TN: Memphis International&carrier=FACTS Memphis 2014 passenger count, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, March 2015
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Global Airport Cities 2013 – Welcome". Retrieved August 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ TN: Memphis International&carrier=FACTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, March 2015
  6. ^ Memphis logs fourth-largest decline in airfares, Commercial Appeal, March 12, 2015
  7. ^ 1956 airport diagram
  8. ^ Clute, Eugene; Fenimore, Russell; Reid, Kenneth (1973). Progressive Architecture 54. Reinhold Publishing Corporation. p. 46. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Delta Air Lines scratches Amsterdam from Memphis – Memphis Business Journal". October 30, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Memphis Airport history". June 14, 1929. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ Andy Ashby (November 7, 2011). "Memphis airport unveils new tower, third tallest in U.S.". Memphis Business Journal. 
  12. ^ Trey Heath (April 27, 2008). "Airport begins $81 million construction project". Memphis Business Journal. 
  13. ^ "SeaPort Airlines :: Memphis, TN". Retrieved August 11, 2013. 
  14. ^ Bianca Phillips (February 20, 2014). "Memphis International Airport To Downsize Concourses". Memphis Flyer. 
  15. ^ "Airport Authority". Shelby County. 
  16. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for MEM (Form 5010 PDF), effective October 25, 2007
  17. ^ "Memphis International Airport Notes". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Memphis International Airport (MEM)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved Feb 2015. 
  20. ^ "164th Airlift Wing". 
  21. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 27, 2010. 
  22. ^ "NTSB Identification: ATL84FA251". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved July 27, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

External images
Aircraft photos from Memphis International (MEM) at
FedEx Jets @ MEM Photo