Memphis Airports

The city of Memphis, Tennessee is served by multiple airports, and for this article, we shall narrow down the airports included here to those within a forty-mile radius only.

First off, none of these except for Memphis International Airport (IATA: MEM) serve commercial international flights. And some don’t even do commercial flights.

Memphis Municipal Airport, dedicated in 1929, opened on a 200-acre plot of farmland just over seven miles (11 km) from downtown Memphis. During its early years the airport had only three hangars and an unpaved runway; passenger and air mail services were provided by American Airlines and Chicago and Southern Air Lines. 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 Forces 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 Road during the 1950s)

The April 1957 OAG showed 64 weekday departures: 25 on Delta, 18 American, 7 Southern, 5 Eastern, 4 Braniff, 3 Trans-Texas and 2 Capital. American DC-6s flew nonstop to Washington and New York, but westward nonstop flights didn’t reach beyond Ft Worth and Kansas City until American started the Los Angeles flights in 1964. The first scheduled jets 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. In 1985–86 Republic Airlines began flights 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.

In recent years, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority had announced a planned $114 million renovation of the airport. This renovation included removing the largely-vacant south ends of concourses A and C, which would allow aircraft to more easily access the larger and much more profitable B concourse. The remaining parts untouched of the A and C concourses would remain and be ready to use for any potential growth in the future. In addition, the plan called for the widening and modernization of the B concourse, which most flights would be directed to when the renovation was complete. The renovation, which was expected to start in late 2015 and end around 2020, would leave the airport with about 60 gates.

However, the initial project was only partially completed, with the south end of the A concourse demolished. Memphis officials decided to rethink the modernization plans. Several aspects of the project changed. The first plan called for renovating and enlarging Concourse B, the updated plan includes a full redesign of much of the concourse. The B Concourse will be closed during construction, and airlines and tenants will move to the A and C Concourses during the construction period. The south end of the C Concourse will remain intact until the B Concourse is completed and airlines have moved from C to B. The southwest leg of the B Concourse will be updated in a future phase, and will only be utilized in the near term for passengers from inbound international flights.

On April 4, 2018, Delta Airlines moved to A concourse and Allegiant Airlines moved to C concourse. The demolition of the spine and Southeast leg of B concourse is scheduled to begin in July 2018.

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