Memphis International Airport

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Memphis International Airport
MEM Airport Logo 2015.png
Memphis International Airport.png
2013 USGS aerial photo
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Memphis–Shelby County Airport Authority
Serves Memphis, Tennessee
Location Shelby County, Tennessee, U.S.
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
MEM is located in the US
Location of airport in Tennessee / United States
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 (2015)
Aircraft operations 218,781
Passengers 3,758,450
Cargo handled 9,460,855,765 lbs
Sources: Memphis international airport annual report 2015[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 United States, 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 2016, Memphis International Airport had a passenger count of 4 million, up slightly from 2015.[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 Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Southwest Airlines, 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
Concourse B at Memphis International Airport

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[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. In 1985–86 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] In 1995 international service expanded when KLM began service to Amsterdam. Flights to Amsterdam ended on September 3, 2012, part of Delta's cutbacks in Memphis,[9] leaving Cancun, Mexico and Freeport, Bahamas as the remaining international flights from Memphis, operated by Aeromexico and Bahamasair on behalf of Vacation Express. Air Canada is resuming daily non-stop service to Toronto beginning May 2017.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Since 2009 the airport has been a small hub for regional carrier SeaPort Airlines. Utilizing the single-engine Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop SeaPort has 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.[14]

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.[15]


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.[16]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Control tower at Memphis International Airport
Delta Air Lines CRJ-200 and A319 at Memphis International Airport

Memphis International Airport covers 3,900 acres (1,600 ha) and has four paved runways:[17]

  • 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[18] 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.

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


  • Terminal A contains 7 gates: A21, A23, A25, A27, A29, A31 and A33. Terminal A is only used by Southwest Airlines.
  • Terminal B contains 42 gates: B1-B20, B22-B43. Delta Air Lines and Allegiant Air operate out of Terminal B. Delta Air Lines operates a Delta Sky Club lounge in Terminal B. Seasonally, the terminal is used by international charters which operate out of the airport's international gates B42 and B43. International travelers are required 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.
  • Terminal C contains 18 gates: C1-C5, C7-C11, C12A/C12B, C14A/C14B, C16, C18, C20 and C22. Terminal C is currently used by American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, GLO Airlines and United Airlines.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Delta A320-200 landing in Memphis


Airlines Destinations Refs
Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson (resumes May 1, 2017)[19] [20]
Allegiant Air Austin, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Los Angeles (begins June 1, 2017),[21] Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Fort Walton Beach
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [23]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National [23]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul [24]
Delta Connection Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Orlando
Frontier Airlines Denver [25]
GLO Airlines
operated by CFM
New Orleans [25]
Southern Airways Express Atlanta–Peachtree, Destin, Harrison (AR), Jackson (MS), Nashville [26]
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Houston–Hobby, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Austin
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental [28]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [28]
Vacation Express
operated by Sunwing Airlines
Seasonal Charter: Cancún [29]
Vacation Express
operated by Swift Air
Seasonal Charter: Cancún [29]


Airlines Destinations
DHL Aviation
operated by Air Transport International
DHL Aviation
operated by Kalitta Air
Honolulu, Los Angeles
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, Fargo, Flint, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, Fort Worth/Alliance, 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, Ottawa, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Peoria, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, 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, Shreveport, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Spokane, Springfield (MO), St. Louis, Syracuse, Taipei-Taoyuan, 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


Top destination[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from MEM (Nov 2015 – Oct 2016)[30]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 431,000 Delta
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 203,000 American
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 176,000 American
4 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 137,000 American, United
5 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 101,000 United
6 Denver, Colorado 99,000 Frontier, United
7 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 74,000 Delta
8 Dallas–Love, Texas 70,000 Southwest
8 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 70,000 Southwest
10 Detroit, Michigan 67,000 Delta

Annual traffic[edit]

Traffic by calendar year
Year Passengers Change from previous year
2000 11,769,213 N/A
2001 11,340,439 Decrease03.64%
2002 10,712,059 Decrease05.54%
2003 11,033,269 Increase03.00%
2004 10,442,181 Decrease05.36%
2005 11,039,077 Increase05.72%
2006 10,806,754 Decrease02.10%
2007 10,896,305 Increase00.83%
2008 10,532,095 Decrease03.34%
2009 10,229,627 Decrease06.37%
2010 10,003,186 Decrease02.21%
2011 8,737,641 Decrease012.65%
2012 6,753,186 Decrease022.71%
2013 4,598,186 Decrease031.91%
2014 3,915,174 Decrease014.85%
2015 3,584,163 Decrease08.45%
2016 3,949,346 Increase 10.19%
Source: Memphis International Airport[31][32]


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.[33]

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.[34] 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.[35]
  • On April 7, 1994, FedEx Flight 705 bound for San Jose, CA 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. The aircraft was written off.


  1. ^
  2. ^ TN: Memphis International&carrier=FACTS Memphis 2015 passenger count, Memphis International Airport
  3. ^ [1] Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Global Airport Cities 2013 – Welcome". August 11, 2013. 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. ^ "All sizes - Memphis 1956_0008 - Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 
  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. ^ "Air Canada returning Toronto nonstop to MEM May 1". December 7, 2016. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Memphis Airport history". June 14, 1929. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  12. ^ Andy Ashby (November 7, 2011). "Memphis airport unveils new tower, third tallest in U.S.". Memphis Business Journal. 
  13. ^ Trey Heath (April 27, 2008). "Airport begins $81 million construction project". Memphis Business Journal. 
  14. ^ "SeaPort Airlines :: Memphis, TN". Retrieved August 11, 2013. 
  15. ^ Bianca Phillips (February 20, 2014). "Memphis International Airport To Downsize Concourses". Memphis Flyer. 
  16. ^ "Airport Authority". Shelby County. 
  17. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for MEM (Form 5010 PDF), effective October 25, 2007
  18. ^ "Memphis International Airport Notes". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Air Canada Spices up its U.S. Schedule with Six New Transborder Routes for 2017". December 7, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Flight Schedules". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Allegiant Air". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  23. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  24. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  25. ^ a b "Frontier". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  26. ^ "Destinations". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  27. ^ "Check Flight Schedules". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  28. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 
  29. ^ a b "Vacation Express Non-Stop Flights". Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  30. ^ "Memphis International Airport (MEM)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved January 28, 2017. 
  31. ^ "Statistics". Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  32. ^ "2016 Comprehensive Report" (PDF). 
  33. ^ "164th Airlift Wing". 
  34. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 27, 2010. 
  35. ^ "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