City council considers bringing Delta back to Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis City Council members plan to sign a letter to Delta Airlines and FedEx it to Atlanta, Georgia, asking the carrier to re-open its hub at Memphis International Airport.

The request comes amid tension between Delta and Georgia lawmakers when the airline ended an NRA discount program.

Memphis has a long history with Delta. City council members said they hope the airline will consider setting up a larger presence here as largely symbolic in nature.

WMC Action News 5 reached out to Delta for a comment, but we have not heard back.

MEM released a statement, saying it doesn't want to comment on the Delta/Georgia situation specifically. But the airport did say it has regular air service dialogue with numerous airlines including Delta.

The Airport Authority is committed to increasing air service from all of our airline partners and appreciates any community support to boost these efforts. While we do not feel it is appropriate to comment on this issue specifically, the airport has regular air service dialogue with numerous airlines, including Delta.

"Make Memphis a hub city again," city councilman Berlin Boyd said.

Members in executive session said the door is open for the air carrier to come back in a bigger capacity.

"Our overall goal is you don't know unless you ask, and so we just want to appeal to them," Boyd said.

When Delta merged with Northwest, it initially kept Memphis as a hub but eventually removed Memphis from hub status in 2013. De-hubbing the Bluff City caused a reduction in flights through MEM.

Now, Delta operates just 17 flights a day to five destinations at the Memphis airport.

Last week Georgia lawmakers stripped a jet fuel tax break from consideration because the airline cut its ties with the NRA. The break would have benefited Delta by some $40 million.

Other cities made an appeal for Delta to relocate, but Delta's CEO later indicated the company is committed to being headquartered in Atlanta.

"The chairman of Delta said they have no intentions of moving from Georgia but that's today we don't know what circumstances could change between now two, three years from now," Martavius Jones said.

Still, Memphis leaders said given the city's history with Delta, they had to make a formal request.

It's part of a larger goal of being more forceful in pushing for growth.

"It's not like Delta's unfamiliar with Memphis," Boyd said. "It's a longshot but we're just throwing it out there. Who knows, it's just like the hot girl you want, you don't know if you can get her unless you try."

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