MEM responds to NY Times article criticizing airport's relevance

MEM responds to NY Times criticism

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis International Airport is getting some national attention of its own, but not the good kind.

An article from New York Times highlighted MEM's glory days as a hub but casts doubt on its relevance now.

Some MEM officials said the piece was unfair.

While it did not receive a particularly warm reception from MEM, passengers said they've had few complaints about the airport.

"We love coming to the Memphis airport. Never have any problems, everybody's nice," said Sherry Youmans from Georgia.

Youmans said her trips to Memphis are always hassle-free, and she's surprised by the recent write-up.

The piece points to the staggering numbers in loss of passenger traffic since the airport's height as a passenger hub in 2007 from roughly 11 million to 4.1 million currently.

Northwest Airlines and Delta merged, and Delta formally "de-hubbed" the airport in 2013.

The article calls the terminal a "half-deserted white elephant."

"Compared to the other ones we just left Vegas, and that one's beautiful," said Memphian Jarvetta Hill.

The article goes on to say the airport is in a unique position of paying millions to modernize and effectively shrink.

"It's dated, but so are we," said Bill Peek from Arkansas. "They went through this same thing in Kansas City where I'm from and they're just getting a brand-new airport."

The airport pushed back last week through this tweet, showing a busy terminal.

Scott Brockman, CEO of the airport authority, said the New York Times reporter omitted key facts.

"At MEM, we have made strong efforts to be very transparent, and we make every effort to accommodate requests for interviews. We know that not every news story is going to be positive. In this case, I feel that it was a gross misrepresentation of our airport and of our interview and felt it necessary to follow up about it," Brockman said.

Airport officials said the article ignores the growth of origination and destination traffic, the most profitable for airlines; falling airfares since the hub days; the addition of new airlines; and a $214 million modernization plan.

The plan will consolidate operations in concourse B, leaving A and C mothballed and empty.

It will be a while before the modernized concourse B opens; the completion date right now is set for early 2021.

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