Wharton details meeting with Delta CEO

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Delta CEO Richard Anderson have known each other for years.

"And we meet periodically," Mayor Wharton told us.

Their most recent meeting happened Monday at Delta headquarters in Atlanta. It came a week after the airline announced its latest flight reduction at Memphis International.

"I felt this was one of those times we should sit down and talk," said Wharton. "It wasn't out of a sense of urgency, just get some things on the table and that's what it was about," he added.

Wharton says Delta's top dog assured him the airline is committed to Memphis. However, our status as a hub, mini-hub, or even what's known as a "focus city" may be up in the air.

"If there's one thing we get out of this interview is that this boils down to economics and competition," said Wharton.

The mayor is "on board" with trying to increase ticket sales which he says would benefit the airline, airport and, in turn, the local economy. Lately, there's been a backlash on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere regarding Delta's high airfares. Many travelers choose to fly out of Little Rock and Nashville.

"When you get to that, it's like the chicken or the egg, which came first?" questioned Wharton. "Are people going to Arkansas because of the high fares or are the fares high because people are going elsewhere?" he added. "Somewhere we got to figure that one out," said Wharton.

The city has retained an expert to help do that while discussions with Delta and other airlines continue.

Wharton says Delta is cutting back in many other markets and overseas. The airline has blamed increased fuel costs and inefficient aircraft.

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