Airport authority: Southwest Airlines is a reality here

Airport authority: Southwest Airlines is a reality here

(WMC-TV) - In the fight to bring lower airfares to Memphis International Airport, city leaders are working to bring Southwest Airlines to the city.

What will it take to get Southwest here?

With plans already in the works to bring the airline to the Bluff City, some city leaders are anxious to know how its impact will be felt.

"Technically they are already a reality here. They've signed a long term lease here and looking at facilities within the airport," said Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority President and CEO Larry Cox.

Cox says the carrier plans to convert all of its AirTran operations in nearly two dozen cities, including Memphis, to the Southwest name.

"We don't know the cities they will serve out of Memphis, but they currently serve Atlanta and we expect them to serve a number of other cities," said Cox.

But what is it really going to take to get Southwest Airlines here? It is a question that is still on the minds of some city leaders.

"There are still a lot of financial incentives that are being discussed. How to get them here, what the financial impact will be to the airport and how Delta will play a role in that being it's kind of a fortress hub that will take a chink into their armor," said Memphis City Councilman Bill Morrison.

Cox says the Memphis-Shelby Airport Authority is meeting regularly with Southwest Airline executives. He says they are excited about new opportunities in Memphis.

"It's a city wide effort to get them here because it's really important for our economy to have Southwest come here and have another option for people to fly out and into Memphis," said Morrison.

Cox says the transition should be completed by the end of 2013.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.