Memphis International Airport is a joint civil-military public airport located three miles (5 km) south of the central business district of Memphis, a city in Shelby County, Tennessee, United States.
Memphis International Airport is home to the main FedEx Express global "SuperHub", which processes a significant portion of the freight carrier's packages. Nonstop FedEx destinations from Memphis include scores of cities across the continental U.S., plus Anchorage and Honolulu, as well as numerous Canadian, Mexican, and Caribbean cities. Intercontinental nonstops include: Cologne, Dubai, Paris, London, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Tokyo. It is considered to be an Airport City and aerotropolis.
From 1993 to 2009, Memphis had the largest cargo operations by volume of any airport worldwide. Though it fell into second position worldwide in 2010, to Hong Kong, it remained the busiest cargo airport in the United States. Major national and international distribution facilities for Flextronics, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Sharp and many others have located in Memphis largely to be near the FedEx hub.
Memphis serves as the fifth largest hub for Delta Air Lines, as well as the primary hub for Delta Connection carrier Pinnacle Airlines with routes to destinations throughout North America, as well as a seasonal nonstop flight to Amsterdam.
Memphis Municipal Airport opened on a plot of farmland just over seven miles (10 km) from downtown Memphis. During its early years the airport had three hangars and an unpaved runway; passenger and air mail service was provided by American Airlines and Chicago and Southern Air Lines (acquired by Delta Air Lines in 1953). In 1939 Eastern Air Lines arrived; that March Eastern had one departure a day to Muscle Shoals and beyond, American had four east/west and C&S had four north/south.
During World War II the United States Army Air Force Air Transport Command 4th Ferrying Group used Memphis while sending new aircraft overseas. In April 1951 the runways were 6000-ft 2/20, 6530-ft 9/27, 4370-ft 14/32 and 4950-ft 17/35 (the airport was all north of Winchester Rd during the 1950s).
The April 1957 OAG shows 64 weekday departures: 25 on Delta, 18 American, 7 Southern, 5 Eastern, 4 Braniff, 3 Trans-Texas and 2 Capital. The first scheduled jet flights were Delta 880s ORD-MEM-MSY and back, starting in July-August 1960.
The current terminal was designed by Mann & Harrover and cost $6.5 million. It opened on June 7, 1963 and Memphis Municipal changed its name to Memphis International in 1969, but the airport had no non-stop international routes until 1985-86 when Republic Airlines began service to Mexico. The terminal was expanded for $31.6 million in 1974, adding two new concourses and extending the others, which were designed by Roy P. Harrover & Associates. The airport had no non-stop inter-continental routes until 1995 when KLM began service to Amsterdam. Flights to Amsterdam are now Delta.
Memphis Municipal Airport 1962, looking north from the then-new control tower
Southern Airways became an important regional carrier at Memphis in the 1960s; it merged into Republic Airlines in 1979. Republic established Memphis as a network hub in 1985 before merging into Northwest Airlines in 1986. In 2008, Delta Air Lines bought Northwest and rebranded the Memphis operation under the Delta name.
Federal Express (now FedEx Express) began operations in Memphis in 1973. It opened its current "SuperHub" facility on the north side of the airport in 1981.
Since 2009 the airport has been a hub for small regional airline, SeaPort Airlines which provides single-engine plane service to a number of communities in Arkansas through the Essential Air Service program. SeaPort Airlines is based out of the private aviation terminal not the main passenger terminal.
Facilities and aircraft
Memphis International Airport covers an area of which contains four paved runways:
- Runway 18C/36C: 11,120 ft 150 ft (3,389 m 46 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 18L/36R: 9,000 ft 150 ft (2,743 m 46 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 18R/36L: 9,320 ft 150 ft (2,841 m 46 m), Surface: Concrete
- Runway 9/27: 8,946 ft 150 ft (2,727 m 46 m), Surface: Asphalt.
Runway 9/27 reopened for traffic on 30 November 2009 after nine months of resurfacing. The new runway has a more durable concrete surface, and opened in time for the peak of the FedEx shipping season. Old (left) and new (right) control tower at Memphis International Airport
For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2006, the airport had 392,883 aircraft operations, an average of 1,076 per day: 57% scheduled commercial, 34% air taxi, 9% general aviation, and <1% military. There are 110 aircraft based at this airport: 46% jet, 26% multi-engine, 19% single-engine, and 8% military.
The Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) is located on the airport grounds at 3229 Democrat Road, TN 38118.
Terminals, airlines, and destinations
- Terminal A contains 23 gates: A1-A12, A14, A16, A18-A21, A25, A27, A29, A31 and A33.
- Terminal B contains 43 gates: B1-B44 (B21 doesn't exist). Terminal B serves all international arrivals and requires travelers to pass through a TSA security checkpoint after clearing customs. This is required because the customs hall exits into the concourse instead of the main lobby.
- Terminal C contains 18 gates: C1-C5, C7-C11, C12A/C12B, C14A/C14B, C16, C18, C20 and C22.
SeaPort Airlines is based out of the Signature Air FBO.
Busiest Domestic Routes from MEM (March 2011 February 2012)
||Delta, US Airways
||Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
||Chicago, IL (ORD)
||American, Delta, United
||Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
||Los Angeles, CA
||Las Vegas, NV
||New York, NY (LGA)
The 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard is based at the co-located Memphis Air National Guard Base, operating the large C-5A transport aircraft.
Accidents and incidents
- On April 7, 1994 FedEx Express Flight 705, that took off a few minutes before experienced an attempted hijacking. FedEx employee Auburn Calloway tried to hijack the plane, but the crew fought him off and returned to Memphis.
- On August 11, 1984, Douglas C-47 N70003 of Aviation Enterprises crashed shortly after take-off from Memphis International Airport on a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight to O'Hare International Airport, Chicago. All three people on board were killed. A missing spark plug on the port engine caused a loss of power. Maintenance involving the removal of the spark plugs had been performed the previous day.
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