MEM pushing for additional nonstop flights

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Leaders at Memphis International Airport are stepping up the push for more nonstop flights amid higher passenger demand.

When Memphis was a Northwest and Delta hub, most of the traffic at the airport consisted of people connecting between flights. Now, that's no longer the case, but nonstops aren't as easy to come by.

"I think it would just be better all the way around," Senatobia resident Nancy Munson said.

Munson is one of many travelers at Memphis International who say they want more nonstop flights.

Airport officials said they're working on it.

"There are a lot of elements to it," Glen Thomas with MEM said.

The airport has compiled a list of destinations based on actual passenger counts.

Topping it are cities like San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh-Durham.

These are the cities most traveled to by Memphis fliers without a direct flight. They are also routes that the airport is keeping the heat on airlines to add.

"We're working more closely with the Convention and Visitors Bureau with the Chamber looking for ways where we can unify our air service strategy make a pitch to the airlines that will bring more service here," Thomas said.

Thomas pointed to a variety of recent positive developments like the addition of ultra-low-cost carriers Allegiant and Frontier, which have added destinations.

Monday, American announced they'll fly bigger planes to DC. and Southwest said it will start nonstop service from Memphis to Denver.

Allegiant added a seasonal flight this summer to Oakland to try to capture some of the Bluff City demand to the Bay Area.

All of it comes as construction is set to begin very soon on the more than $200 million airport modernization and while airfares at Memphis have fallen an average of $180 since 2012.

"We added more than 200,000 passengers in 2017 compared to 2016 and the airlines are responding to that growth with larger aircraft and more destinations," Thomas said.

In the past, many Memphis travelers would drive to Little Rock for cheaper fares. Thomas says a study done by Little Rock last year found the opposite is now true, and some of their travelers are instead coming to Memphis.

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