Memphis International Airport

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Memphis International Airport
MEM Airport Logo 2015.png
Memphis International Airport.png
2013 USGS image
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorMemphis–Shelby County Airport Authority
ServesMemphis metropolitan area
LocationShelby County, Tennessee, United States
Hub for
Elevation AMSL341 ft / 104 m
Coordinates35°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
MEM is located in Tennessee
MEM is located in the 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 (2021)
Aircraft operations342,530
Cargo9,879,426,206 lb
Sources: Memphis International Airport[1]

Memphis International Airport (IATA: MEM, ICAO: KMEM, FAA LID: MEM) is a civil-military airport located seven miles (11 km) southeast of Downtown Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. It is the primary international airport serving Memphis. It covers 3,900 acres (1,600 ha) and has four runways.[2][3]

It is home to the FedEx Express global hub, often referred to as the FedEx Superhub or simply the Superhub,[4] which processes many of the company's packages.[5] Non-stop FedEx destinations from Memphis include cities across the continental United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America.

From 1993 to 2009, Memphis had the largest cargo operations of any airport worldwide. It dropped to the second position in 2010, just behind Hong Kong. It still remained the busiest cargo airport in the United States and in the Western Hemisphere, until 2020, when it once again became the world's busiest cargo handling airport due to the surge in ecommerce partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[6]

The airport averages over 80 passenger flights per day.[7] 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.[8]


Landside departures level at Memphis International Airport
FedEx MD-11F taxiing at Memphis

Memphis Municipal Airport, dedicated in 1929, opened on a 200-acre (81 ha) plot of farmland just over seven miles (11 km) from downtown Memphis. In 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 Road 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 non-stop to Washington and New York, but westward non-stops didn't reach beyond Fort 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.[10]

Hub status[edit]

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] Northwest operated around 300 daily flights at the peak of the hub, including international flights to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.[12] Meanwhile, Northwest partner KLM launched the Tennessee city's first-ever transatlantic service in June 1995, using McDonnell Douglas MD-11s to fly to Amsterdam.[13][14] The airport had spent $12.6 million on a new customs area in preparation for the route.[15] KLM operated the flights until sometime between 2002 and 2003, when Northwest took over.[16][17] Delta operated the route from the airline's merger with Northwest in 2008 to September 2012 when the route was discontinued.[18]

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, and maintains a large presence to the present day.

Northwest was acquired by Delta Air Lines (which operates a large hub in Atlanta) in 2008, and Delta continued operating at Memphis as a hub, flying as many as 200 flights per day as recently as 2009.[19] The carrier maintained the nonstop link to Amsterdam until 2012; it explained that expensive fuel, diminished passenger numbers, and the state of the American and European economies had compelled it to withdraw the service.[20][21] Delta continued to scale back its operations at Memphis before closing the hub in 2013.[19] Passenger traffic at the airport declined for the next several years until it bottomed out at 3.5 million in 2015.

Recent years[edit]

In 2014 the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority announced a planned $114 million renovation of the airport. This renovation included demolishing the largely vacant south ends of Concourses A and C, mothballing the remaining portions and widening and modernizing the larger Concourse B. The renovation, which was expected to start in late 2015 and end around 2020, would have left the airport with about 60 gates.[22]

The initial project was only partly completed, with the south end of Concourse A demolished. Memphis officials decided to rethink the plans; several aspects of the project changed. The plan had called for renovating and widening Concourse B, the updated plan included a full redesign of most of the concourse. Concourse B was closed during construction, and airlines and tenants moved to Concourses A and C during that time. The southwest leg of Concourse B will be updated in a future phase, and will only be utilized in the near term for passengers from inbound international flights.[23] The modernization began in September 2018 and was completed in February 2022.[24]



Memphis International Airport has a single terminal and three concourses, but only Concourse B is in use with 23 gates.[25] Concourses A and C are mothballed indefinitely.[26] All non pre–cleared international flights are processed on the southwestern portion of B.[27]

Ground transportation[edit]

Memphis International Airport's passenger terminal can be accessed from Interstate 240 at exit 23B via Plough Blvd and Jim McGehee Pkwy. It can also be accessed via Winchester Rd.

MATA Bus #28 offers connections to the Hudson and Airways transit centers.[28][29]

The Ground Transportation Center, completed in February 2013, contains the airport's economy parking and parking for all car rental companies.[30]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Allegiant Air Austin, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando/Sanford, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Cincinnati, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Des Moines, Phoenix/Mesa, Pittsburgh, Punta Gorda (FL), West Palm Beach
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [32]
American Eagle Austin (begins January 10, 2023),[33] Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Washington–National
Seasonal: Orlando
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City [34]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando [35]
Southern Airways Express Destin–Executive, El Dorado, Harrison (AR), Hot Springs (AR)
Seasonal: Jackson (TN)
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Houston–Hobby, Orlando
Seasonal: Phoenix–Sky Harbor,[37] Tampa
Spirit Airlines Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando [39]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [40]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [40]


Atlas Air Seasonal: Anchorage, Miami, San Juan, Los Angeles, Ontario
DHL Aviation Cincinnati, Nashville, New Orleans [41]
FedEx Express Aguadilla, Albany (NY), Albuquerque, Allentown, Anchorage, Appleton, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bloomington, Bogotá, Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Burbank, Burlington, Calgary, Campinas/Viracopos, Casper, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cologne/Bonn, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dover, Dubai–International, Edmonton, El Paso, Fargo, Flint, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, Fort Worth/Alliance, Fresno, Grand Junction, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Greensboro (NC), Greenville/Spartanburg, Guadalajara, Harlingen, Harrisburg, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntington (WV), Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette, Laredo, Las Vegas, Liège, London–Stansted, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Manchester (NH), Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile–International, Monterrey, Montréal–Mirabel, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newburgh, Norfolk, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Ottawa, Panama–Tocumen, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Peoria, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Providence, Querétaro, Quito, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Bernardino, 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, Tallahassee, Tampa, Tijuana, Tokyo–Narita, Toluca/Mexico City, Toronto–Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, West Palm Beach, Wichita, Winnipeg [42][43]
FedEx Feeder Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Dothan, Evansville, Huntsville, Monroe, Tallahassee, Tulsa
Kalitta Air Seasonal: San Francisco, Los Angeles
Kalitta Charters Cincinnati
UPS Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Jackson (MS), Little Rock, Louisville, Miami, Ontario, Roanoke [44]


Passenger traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at MEM airport. See Wikidata query.

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from MEM (June 2021 - May 2022)[45]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 429,000 Delta, Southwest
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 251,000 American
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 192,000 American
4 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 118,000 American, United
5 Denver, Colorado 107,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
6 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 89,000 United
7 Orlando, Florida 79,000 Frontier, Southwest
8 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 71,000 Southwest
9 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 62,000 American, Southwest
10 Detroit, Michigan 57,000 Delta

Airline market share[edit]

Largest airlines at MEM (April 2021 - March 2022)[45]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Delta Air Lines 828,000 21.33%
2 American Airlines 790,000 20.36%
3 Southwest Airlines 717,000 18.47%
4 SkyWest 375,000 9.66%
5 Allegiant Air 259,000 6.68%
6 Other 912,000 23.49%

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On August 12, 1944, a USAAF Douglas C-47 caught fire after takeoff after one of the propeller blades cut through the fuselage, causing a fire on the runway. All except the captain got out safely.[46]
  • On December 17, 1944, a USAAF Douglas C-49 drifted to the right after takeoff, stalled and hit a brick storehouse. Three out of the six on board died.[47]
  • On January 13, 1963, a Douglas DC-7 operated by the USAF struck a USAF Fairchild C-123 Provider taxiing at night. The pilot of the DC-7 was killed, and the Provider was destroyed after catching fire.[48][49]
  • On May 18, 1978, a Dassault Falcon 20 C operated by Flight Safety International collided with a Cessna 150 3.8 miles west of MEM, all four occupants on the Falcon and two aboard the Cessna died as both aircraft crashed.[50]
  • 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.[51] 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.[52]
  • On October 8, 1987, a Volpar Turboliner II operated by Connie Kalitta Services crashed while attempting to return to MEM due to an attached tail stand. The aircraft was overweight and the cg[clarification needed] was three inches forward of the limit. The sole occupant died.[53]
  • On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705 bound for San Jose, California 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—although seriously injured—fought him off and returned to Memphis, where police and emergency crews subdued him.
  • On December 18, 2003, FedEx Express Flight 647 veered off the runway after the landing gear collapsed upon landing. The flight had departed Oakland International Airport (OAK) earlier that day. The aircraft was immediately engulfed in flames. All five 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. ^ "Memphis International Airport Statistics" (PDF). Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  2. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for MEM PDF, effective August 11, 2022
  3. ^ "MEM airport data at". Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  4. ^ "U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu Visits FedEx Memphis Superhub". FedEx Newsroom. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  5. ^ "Memphis - Land Use - Global Airport Cities". Archived from the original on November 29, 2014.
  6. ^ "Global Airport Cities 2013 – Welcome". August 11, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  7. ^ "MEM March passengers drive 9.1% traffic increase". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  8. ^ "164th Airlift Wing".
  9. ^ "All sizes - Memphis 1956_0008 - Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr.
  10. ^ Clute, Eugene; Fenimore, Russell; Reid, Kenneth (1973). Progressive Architecture. Vol. 54. Reinhold Publishing Corporation. p. 46. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "Memphis Airport history". June 14, 1929. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Moseley, Jace. "The Death and Rebirth of Memphis (MEM) and Cincinnati (CVG)". Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "Daily Memphis-Amsterdam flights set". The Atlanta Constitution. November 5, 1995. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  14. ^ Ha, Hue (June 15, 1995). "Blues promotion seeks to gather European green". Clarion-Ledger. Jackson, MS. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  15. ^ "Memphis-Amsterdam air route opens". The Daily News-Journal. Murfreesboro, TN. Associated Press. June 28, 1995. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  16. ^ "KLM and partners world timetable, valid June 6 to August 31, 2003" (PDF). Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  17. ^ "KLM and partners world timetable, valid October 27, 2002 to March 29, 2003" (PDF). Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  18. ^ "Delta Permanently Drops Flights to Amsterdam". October 31, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  19. ^ a b Mutzabaugh, Ben. "Delta to pull plug on Memphis hub after Labor Day". USA Today. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  20. ^ Ashby, Andy (October 30, 2012). "Delta Air Lines scratches Amsterdam from Memphis". Memphis Business Journal. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  21. ^ "Delta's 4Q2012 international route cuts free up significant widebody capacity". CAPA - Centre for Aviation. June 28, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  22. ^ Phillips, Bianca (February 20, 2014). "Memphis International Airport To Downsize Concourses". Memphis Flyer.
  23. ^ "Modernization Images". Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  24. ^ "Renovated B Concourse opens at Memphis International Airport". February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  25. ^ "Terminal Map - Memphis International Airport". Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  26. ^ "Memphis airport readies for $214 million, three-year overhaul of B Concourse". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  27. ^ "MEM Airport Terminal Map". Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  28. ^ "Ground Transportation". Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  29. ^ "Route 28 Schedule" (PDF). Retrieved February 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "Memphis International Airport Ground Transportation Center". Flintco. Retrieved January 18, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "Allegiant Interactive Route Map". Allegiant Travel Company. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  32. ^ a b "American Airlines Map". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  33. ^ "Austin-Memphis flights: American Airlines plans new direct flight". Commercial Appeal. September 19, 2022. Retrieved September 19, 2022.
  34. ^ a b "Delta Air Lines Map". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  35. ^ "Frontier". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  36. ^ "Routes - SOUTHERN AIRWAYS EXPRESS". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  37. ^[bare URL]
  38. ^ "Southwest Airlines - Route Map". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  39. ^ "Spirit Airlines Route Map". Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  40. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  41. ^ "Destinations Served". DHL Aviation Cargo. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  42. ^ Risher, Wayne. "FedEx announces $1 billion expansion of Memphis hub". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  43. ^ Nichols, Meagan. "New FedEx route connects China to Memphis". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  44. ^ "UPS Air Cargo: Airports". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  45. ^ a b "Memphis International Airport (MEM)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  46. ^ Accident description for 43-15598 at the Aviation Safety Network
  47. ^ Accident description for 43-1976 at the Aviation Safety Network
  48. ^ Accident description for N4875C at the Aviation Safety Network
  49. ^ Accident description for Fairchild C-123B at the Aviation Safety Network
  50. ^ Accident description for N121GW at the Aviation Safety Network
  51. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  52. ^ "NTSB Identification: ATL84FA251". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  53. ^ Accident description for N9231 at the Aviation Safety Network

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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