Congressman calls for federal investigation on Delta Airlines in Memphis

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen is calling for a federal investigation into unfair practices by Delta Airlines in Memphis - as an edgy ad campaign hits the Internet.

The ad campaign takes flight as everyday people and business travelers alike take stock of the hurting Delta's putting on their wallet.

"Companies used to care about the cities they served.  Delta doesn't care about Memphis," said Congressman Steve Cohen. 

Cohen said the RunwayRobbery ads shows Memphis' frustration with rising prices and fewer flights, after Delta took over Northwest Airlines.

He said the Airport Authority needs to get its priorities straight.

"Delta is not a Memphian. Delta's a customer," said Cohen.

When landing on the RunwayRobbery website, the first thing you see on the site is the handle of a gun with an airplane as its barrel - on a red background.

Then, "Memphis International has been cited as one of the most expensive airports in the U.S."
Then "You're a victim...of Runway Robbery" appears on the screen.
It also shows a running tally of money lost due to the failure of addressing the problem.

"You don't just sit  here and be apologist for Delta.  The Airport Authority ought to be standing up for the consumer as well as the airport as an entity," said Cohen

The ad that said airport problems are "keeping away business and opportunities for the city" comes on the heels of other web campaigns like "Come Fly Memphis" and "Delta Does Memphis." has companion Facebook and Twitter pages and 10 billboards will follow - on I-240 near the airport.

It's all being done with anonymous funding.

Though Cohen would not go so far as to say Delta's violating anti-trust laws, he did say they've scared off at least one other carrier from bringing in competition.

His powers allow for one course of action.

"I'm going to be asking for the Justice Department to look into this.  Whether they can or not, whether they will or not is another issue," said Cohen.

With only 20 flights per day flying out of Memphis Saturdays, Cohen said the Airport Authority ought to consider raising its one million dollar financial incentive to bring in competition.

This criticism comes as Mid-Southerns wait - with bated breath -for low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines to make a more concrete commitment to Memphis.

While travelers said they're going to nearby airports for better rates, Delta maintains the cuts are due to less demand.

Airport Authority Chairman Arnold Perl and Airport President Larry Cox were unavailable for comment.
See more about RunwayRobbery in this slideshow.
Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.