Memphis International Airport

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Memphis International Airport
Memphis Intl Airport Logo.svg
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 Asphalt
Statistics (2012)
Aircraft operations (6-12 to 5-13) 259,982
Based aircraft (2012) 67
Passengers (2012) 7,874,888
Sources: FAA[1] & airport website[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 "SuperHub," which processes many of their packages.[3] Nonstop FedEx destinations from Memphis include cities across the continental U.S., plus Anchorage and Honolulu, as well as Canadian, Mexican, and Caribbean cities. Intercontinental FedEx flights include: Cologne, Dubai, Paris, London, São Paulo (Campinas), Seoul and Tokyo.

From 1993 to 2009 Memphis had the largest cargo operations of any airport worldwide. MEM fell into second position in 2010, behind Hong Kong; however, it remained the busiest cargo airport in the United States. Major national and international distribution facilities for Flextronics, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Sharp and many others have located in Memphis largely to be near the FedEx hub.[4]

Memphis is ranked the 41st busiest US airport by enplanements with 4,598,186 passengers using the airport in 2013, a 32% decrease from the previous year. Delta Air Lines dropped Memphis as a hub airport after continually reducing its flights after its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines. As of January 2014, MEM averages 86 passenger flights per day and Delta served MEM with 30 flights per day as the airport was officially de-hubbed by Delta.[5][6]

Memphis was ranked the sixth most expensive US airport to fly out of in 2012, with an average fare of $480.00.[7][8]


Memphis Municipal Airport opened 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[9])

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.

Memphis Municipal Airport 1962, looking north from the then-new control tower

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.[10] 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 cutback in Memphis,[11] this leaves Cancun the only scheduled international flight from Memphis, operated seasonally by Delta.

Civilian air traffic controllers, Memphis International Airport, 1962

Southern Airways was an important regional carrier at Memphis in the 1960s; it merged into Republic Airlines in 1979. Republic established Memphis as a hub in 1985 before merging into Northwest Airlines in 1986.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Memphis International in the 1970s

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.[15]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

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

  • 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) Asphalt.

Runway 9/27[16] reopened for traffic on 30 November 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.

Old (left) and new (right) control tower at Memphis International Airport

In 2006 the airport had 392,883 aircraft operations, an average of 1,076 per day: 57% scheduled commercial, 34% air taxi, 9% general aviation, and <1% military. 110 aircraft are based at this airport: 46% jet, 26% multi-engine, 19% single-engine, and 8% military.[1]

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

Terminals, airlines, and destinations[edit]

Currently, only domestic flights are available for passengers. International flights are only available for cargo.

  • Terminal A contains 23 gates: A1-A12, A14, A16, A18-A21, A25, A27, A29, A31 and A33. Terminal A is used currently only by Southwest.
  • 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 B is currently used only by Delta.
  • 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
American Airlines Dallas/Ft. Worth C
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Miami C
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Tampa (ends April 30, 2014)
Seasonal: Cancún
Delta Connection Austin, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Washington-National
Seasonal: Denver, Tampa
Frontier Airlines Denver C
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Houston–Hobby, Orlando, Tampa A
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark C
US Airways Charlotte (ends May 4, 2014) C
US Airways Express Charlotte, Philadelphia (begins June 5, 2014),[17] Washington–National C
Vacation Express operated by Aeromexico Seasonal: Cancun (begins May 19, 2014)[18] B
Vacation Express operated by Bahamasair Seasonal: Freeport (begins August 11, 2014)[18] B

Private Terminal[edit]

SeaPort Airlines is based out of the Signature Air FBO.

Airlines Destinations
SeaPort Airlines El Dorado, Harrison, Hot Springs, Jackson (TN) Flights continue to: Kansas City, Salina, Nashville

Top destinations[edit]

Delta Air Lines airplanes at Memphis International Airport
Busiest Domestic Routes from MEM (October 2012 – September 2013)[19]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 517,000 AirTran, Delta
2 Charlotte, NC 180,000 US Airways
3 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 143,000 American, Delta
4 Chicago, IL (ORD) 124,000 American, Delta, United
5 Orlando, FL 106,000 AirTran, Delta
6 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN 90,000 Delta
6 Houston–Intercontinental 90,000 Delta, United
6 Detroit 90,000 Delta
9 Washington-National 88,000 Delta, US Airways
10 Los Angeles, CA 81,000 Delta

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, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubai, Edmonton, El Paso, Flint, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, 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, Los Angeles, London–Stansted, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Manchester (NH), Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Miami, Mobile (Downtown), Monterrey, Montréal–Mirabel, Nashville, New York–JFK, Newark, Newburgh, New Orleans, 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 Juan, Savannah, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Shreveport, Sioux Falls, 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


The 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard is based at the co-located Memphis Air National Guard Base, operating the large C-5A transport aircraft.[20]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On December 18, 2003, FedEx Express Flight 647 veered off of the runway after a landing gear collapse upon landing from Oakland International Airport (OAK). The aircraft was immediately engulfed in flames. All 5 crew members made their escape by exiting via the cockpit window.
  • On April 7, 1994, FedEx Flight 705, that took off a few minutes before experiencing an attempted hijacking. 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 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 were killed.[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]


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for MEM (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-10-25
  2. ^ "Home | Memphis International Airport". Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Global Airport Cities 2013 - Welcome". Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  5. ^ Sells, Toby. "Delta Air Lines plans additional cuts to service at Memphis International". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  6. ^ Nick Kenney (June 4, 2013). "Delta Airlines to de-hub MEM, cut jobs, slash flights". WMC-TV. Retrieved June 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Table 10: Ranked by 1st Quarter 2013 Average Domestic Fare (2013$) | Bureau of Transportation Statistics". Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  8. ^ "Most Expensive US Airport to Fly Out of Is Memphis International Airport". Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  9. ^ 1956 airport diagram
  10. ^ Clute, Eugene; Fenimore, Russell; Reid, Kenneth (1973). Progressive Architecture 54. Reinhold Publishing Corporation. p. 46. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Delta Air Lines scratches Amsterdam from Memphis - Memphis Business Journal". 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  12. ^ "Memphis Airport history". June 14, 1929. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  13. ^ Andy Ashby (7 November 2011). "Memphis airport unveils new tower, third tallest in U.S.". Memphis Business Journal. 
  14. ^ Trey Heath (27 April 2008). "Airport begins $81 million construction project". Memphis Business Journal. 
  15. ^ "SeaPort Airlines :: Memphis, TN". Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  16. ^ "Memphis International Airport Notes". Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ "Memphis International Airport (MEM)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved December 2013. 
  20. ^ "164th Airlift Wing". 
  21. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  22. ^ "NTSB Identification: ATL84FA251". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 27 July 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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