Memphis International Airport

Memphis International Airport (IATA: MEM, ICAO: KMEM, FAA LID: MEM) is a civil-military airport located seven miles (11 km) southeast of Downtown Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee. It covers 3,900 acres (1,600 ha) and has four runways.[3]

Memphis International Airport
MEM Airport Logo 2015.png
Memphis International Airport.png
2013 USGS image
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorMemphis–Shelby County Airport Authority
ServesMemphis, Tennessee
LocationShelby County, Tennessee, U.S.
Hub for
Elevation AMSL341 ft / 104 m
Coordinates35°02′33″N 089°58′36″W / 35.04250°N 89.97667°W / 35.04250; -89.97667Coordinates: 35°02′33″N 089°58′36″W / 35.04250°N 89.97667°W / 35.04250; -89.97667
Location of Memphis International Airport
MEM is located in Tennessee
MEM is located in the United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
18C/36C 11,120 3,389 Concrete
18L/36R 9,000 2,743 Concrete
18R/36L 9,320 2,841 Concrete
9/27 8,946 2,727 Concrete
Statistics (2019)
Aircraft operations226,599
Cargo9,531,640,512 lb
Sources: Memphis International Airport[2]

It is home to the FedEx Express global hub, which processes many of the company's packages.[4] Non-stop FedEx destinations from Memphis include cities across the continental United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. From 1993 to 2009, Memphis had the largest cargo operations of any airport worldwide. MEM dropped to the second position in 2010, just behind Hong Kong; however, it remains the busiest cargo airport in the United States and in the Western Hemisphere.[5]

On the passenger side, MEM averages over 80 passenger flights per day.[6] The 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard is based at the co-located Memphis Air National Guard Base, operating C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.[7]


Memphis Municipal Airport, dedicated in 1929, opened on a 200-acre (81 ha) plot of farmland just over seven miles (11 km) from downtown Memphis. In 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 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.[8]

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. American DC-6s flew non-stop to Washington and New York, but westward non-stops didn't reach beyond Ft Worth and Kansas City until American started Los Angeles 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.[9]

Hub statusEdit

Southern Airways was an important regional carrier at Memphis in the 1960s; it merged into Republic Airlines in 1979 as the first large merger after the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act. With the dismantling of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) flight approval requirements, airlines began developing around a large hub model as opposed to the former point-to-point networks that were common before deregulation. Republic established Memphis as a hub operation in 1985 before merging into Northwest Airlines in 1986.[10] Northwest operated around 300 daily flights at the peak of the hub, including international flights to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean as well as a transatlantic flight to Amsterdam (initially operated by KLM).[11]

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, and maintains a large presence to the present day.

In 2008 the airport began expanding its control tower and parking garages. The new tower cost $72.6 million and is 336 feet tall, more than double the old tower height.[12] An $81 million, 7-story parking garage replaced two surface lots adding 6,500 parking spaces. Eleven million dollars was spent on a covered moving walkway between the garages and the terminal.[13]

FedEx MD-11F taxiing at Memphis

After the acquisition of Northwest by Delta Air Lines (which operates a large hub in Atlanta) in 2008, flights were scaled back until Delta closed the hub in 2013.[14] Passenger traffic in Memphis declined for the next several years until it bottomed out at 3.5 million in 2015.

Recent yearsEdit

In 2014 the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority announced a planned $114 million renovation of the airport. This renovation included demolishing the largely-vacant south ends of concourses A and C, which would allow aircraft to more easily access the larger B concourse. The remainder 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.[15]

The initial project was only partly completed, with the south end of the A concourse demolished. Memphis officials decided to rethink the plans; several aspects of the project changed. The plan had called for renovating and widening Concourse B, the updated plan includes a full redesign of most of the concourse. The B Concourse will be closed during construction, and airlines and tenants will move to the A and C Concourses during that time. 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.[16]

On April 4, 2018 Delta Air Lines moved to the A Concourse and Allegiant Air to the C Concourse; construction on the B concourse began in September 2018.[17]

Thanks to factors such as the addition of Southwest Airlines and other low cost carriers, airport traffic has been rebounding in recent years.[18]



Memphis International Airport has one terminal and three concourses. In 2021, all flights will consolidate to Concourse B and A and C will be mothballed.[19]

Concourse A has 9 gates[16] and serves Delta and Southwest.

Concourse B has 42 gates. Delta Air Lines operates a Sky Club lounge outside Concourse B. The concourse contains the airport's U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, which is used by Vacation Express and international diversions.[16] Concourse B is closed for work on the airport's modernization project, expected to be completed in 2021.

Concourse C has 18 gates[16] and serves Air Canada, Allegiant Air, American, Frontier and United.

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson [20]
Allegiant Air Austin, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Cincinnati, Des Moines, Oakland, Phoenix/Mesa, Pittsburgh
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [22]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Washington–National [22]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Boston (resumes January 4, 2021),[24] Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia [23]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Orlando
Seasonal: Philadelphia
Southern Airways Express El Dorado, Harrison (AR), Nashville [26]
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Houston–Hobby, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor (begins December 17, 2020),[27] Tampa [28]
United Airlines Denver, Houston–Intercontinental
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [29]


DHL Aviation Cincinnati, Nashville, New Orleans [30]
FedEx Express Aguadilla, Albany (NY), Albuquerque, Allentown, Anchorage, Appleton, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bloomington, Bogotá, Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Burbank, Calgary, Campinas/Viracopos, Casper, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cologne/Bonn, Colorado Springs, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Rickenbacker, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dubai-International, Edmonton, El Paso, Fargo, Flint, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Wayne, Fort Worth/Alliance, Fresno, Grand Junction, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Guadalajara, Harlingen, Harrisburg, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntington (WV), Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette, Laredo, Las Vegas, Liège, London–Stansted, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Manchester (NH), Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile–Downtown, Monterrey, Montréal–Mirabel, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–JFK, Newark, Newburgh, Norfolk, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Ottawa, Panama–Tocumen, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Peoria, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (MN), Rochester (NY), Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San Jose (CR), San Juan, Savannah, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shreveport, Sioux Falls, South Bend, Spokane, Springfield (MO), St. Louis, Syracuse, Tallahassee, Tampa, Tijuana, Tokyo–Narita, Toluca/Mexico City, Toronto–Pearson, Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, West Palm Beach, Wichita, Winnipeg [31][32]
FedEx Feeder Charleston, Charleston (WV), Dothan, Evansville, Huntsville, Monroe, Moses Lake, Tallahassee, Tulsa
UPS Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Louisville, Miami, Roanoke [33]


Top destinationsEdit

Busiest domestic routes from MEM (July 2019 - June 2020)[34]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 345,000 Delta, Southwest
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 201,000 American
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 149,000 American
4 Denver, Colorado 95,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
5 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 93,000 American, United
6 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 81,000 United
7 Dallas–Love, Texas 62,000 Southwest
8 Orlando, Florida 57,000 Frontier, Southwest
9 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 50,000 Delta
10 New York–LaGuardia, New York 49,000 American, Delta

Airline market shareEdit

Largest Airlines at MEM (May 2019 - April 2020)[34]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Delta Air Lines 996,000 24.36%
2 American Airlines 809,000 19.78%
3 Southwest Airlines 699,000 17.09%
4 Republic Airlines 267,000 6.53%
5 Allegiant Air 214,000 5.24%
6 Other 1,104,000 26.99%

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • On August 12, 1944, a USAAF Douglas C-47 caught fire after takeoff after one of the propeller blades cut through the fuselage, causing a fire on the runway. All except the captain got out safely.[35]
  • On December 17, 1944, a USAAF Douglas C-49 drifted to the right after takeoff, stalled and hit a brick storehouse. Three out of the six onboard perished.[36]
  • On January 13, 1963, a Douglas DC-7 operated by the USAF struck a USAF Fairchild C-123 Provider taxiing at night. The pilot of the DC-7 was killed, the Provider was destroyed after catching fire.[37][38]
  • On May 18, 1978, a Dassault Falcon 20C operated by Flight Safety International collided with a Cessna 150 3.8 miles west of MEM, all four occupants on the Falcon and two aboard the Cessna died as both aircraft crashed.[39]
  • 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 died.[40] 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.[41]
  • On October 8, 1987, a Volpar Turboliner II operated by Connie Kalitta Services crashed while attempting to return to MEM due to an attached tail stand, the aircraft was overweight and the cg was three inches forward of the limit. The sole occupant died.[42]
  • On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705 bound for San Jose, California experienced an attempted hijacking shortly after takeoff. FedEx employee Auburn Calloway tried to hijack the plane in order to crash it into the FedEx hub at Memphis International, in a Kamikaze-style attack. The crew—although seriously injured—fought him off and returned to Memphis, where police and emergency crews subdued him.
  • On December 18, 2003, FedEx Express Flight 647 veered off the runway after the landing gear collapsed upon landing from Oakland International Airport (OAK). The aircraft was immediately engulfed in flames. All 5 crew members escaped by exiting via the cockpit window.
  • On July 28, 2006, FedEx Flight 630's landing gear collapsed upon landing at Memphis International Airport after a flight from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. After coming to a stop, the plane caught fire, engulfing the left wing and engine. While the three crew members sustained injuries, they all survived. The aircraft was written off.


  1. ^ Fontaine, Tom. "Pittsburgh adding flights to regional airports".
  2. ^ "Memphis International Airport Statistics". Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  3. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for MEM (Form 5010 PDF), effective October 25, 2007
  4. ^ [1] Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Global Airport Cities 2013 – Welcome". August 11, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  6. ^ "MEM March passengers drive 9.1% traffic increase". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  7. ^ "164th Airlift Wing".
  8. ^ "All sizes - Memphis 1956_0008 - Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr.
  9. ^ Clute, Eugene; Fenimore, Russell; Reid, Kenneth (1973). Progressive Architecture. 54. Reinhold Publishing Corporation. p. 46. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  10. ^ "Memphis Airport history". June 14, 1929. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  11. ^ Moseley, Jace. "The Death and Rebirth of Memphis (MEM) and Cincinnati (CVG)". Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  12. ^ Andy Ashby (November 7, 2011). "Memphis airport unveils new tower, third tallest in U.S." Memphis Business Journal.
  13. ^ Trey Heath (April 27, 2008). "Airport begins $81 million construction project". Memphis Business Journal.
  14. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben. "Delta to pull plug on Memphis hub after Labor Day". USA Today. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  15. ^ Phillips, Bianca (February 20, 2014). "Memphis International Airport To Downsize Concourses". Memphis Flyer.
  16. ^ a b c d "Modernization Images". Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  17. ^ Phillips, Jerica. "Construction begins on $214M airport renovations". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  18. ^ Blinder, Alan (May 23, 2018). "The Trouble With the Memphis Airport: No Crowds". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  19. ^ "Memphis airport readies for $214 million, three-year overhaul of B Concourse". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  20. ^ "Flight Schedules". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  21. ^ "Route Map". Allegiant Travel Company. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  23. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  24. ^ "Delta resumes Boston – Memphis route from January 2021". Routes Online. August 2020. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  25. ^ "Frontier". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  26. ^ "Destinations". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  27. ^ "Southwest Airlines Extends Published Flight Schedule Through Jan. 4, 2021". Southwest Airlines. May 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  28. ^ "Check Flight Schedules". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  29. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "Destinations Served". DHL Aviation Cargo. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  31. ^ Risher, Wayne. "FedEx announces $1 billion expansion of Memphis hub". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  32. ^ Nichols, Meagan. "New FedEx route connects China to Memphis". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  33. ^ "UPS Air Cargo: Airports". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  34. ^ a b "Memphis International Airport (MEM)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  35. ^ Accident description for 43-15598 at the Aviation Safety Network
  36. ^ Accident description for 43-1976 at the Aviation Safety Network
  37. ^ Accident description for N4875C at the Aviation Safety Network
  38. ^ Accident description for Fairchild C-123B at the Aviation Safety Network
  39. ^ Accident description for N121GW at the Aviation Safety Network
  40. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  41. ^ "NTSB Identification: ATL84FA251". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  42. ^ Accident description for N9231 at the Aviation Safety Network

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

External images
  Aircraft photos from Memphis International (MEM) at
  FedEx Jets @ MEM Photo