(WMC-TV) - Memphis International Airport is one step closer to striking a deal with discount air carrier Southwest Airlines.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell was all smiles Saturday, on the heels of a promising meeting with Southwest Airlines executive Vice President Rick Hicks Friday.
"We're of course very appreciative that some of the Southwest executives were in town," said Mayor Luttrell. "They want to make their business model work for us," he added.
Luttrell says Southwest plans to offer "flights with enhancements" out of Memphis International Airport next fall and the conversation centered on community inroads.
"How could they get into the community to show their commitment and their dedication to the community. Of course I offered to do anything that we could do within our power to open doors for them," Luttrell said.
Turbulence between the public and Memphis International hub Delta Airlines began shortly after the airlines bought out Northwest Airlines in 2008.
Since then, Delta has cut flights in half and rates have skyrocketed - forcing many to fly out of Little Rock for better rates.
"If we're going to grow our economy, if we're going to make this a destination for recreation purposes, then it all depends upon having an affordable transportation system," stated Luttrell.
Luttrell sees Southwest as competition to drive rates down so passenger flights mirror the stellar air cargo reputation FedEx has fostered in Memphis.
"It gives our airport a distinct advantage as we continue to progress through some of the economic challenges of the next few years," Luttrell explained.
With that, Luttrell says Southwest is ready for take off.
The Airport Authority says they're planning to hold a news conference Monday to answer questions about the discussions.