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, United States. MEM is the primary international airport serving Memphis, Tennessee, United States. 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
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 (2020)
Aircraft operations202,722
Cargo894,650,815 lb
Sources: Memphis International Airport[2]

It is home to the FedEx Express global hub, often referred to as the FedEx Superhub or simply the Superhub,[4] which processes many of the company's packages.[5] 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 remained the busiest cargo airport in the United States and in the Western Hemisphere, until 2020, when it once again became the world's busiest cargo handling airport due to the surge in ecommerce partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[6] The airport was also a passenger hub for Republic Airlines, which became Northwest Airlines, and continued as a hub when Northwest merged into Delta Air Lines, from 1985 to 2013.

On the passenger side, MEM averages over 80 passenger flights per day.[7] 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.[8]


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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] Northwest operated around 300 daily flights at the peak of the hub, including international flights to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.[12]

Meanwhile, Northwest partner KLM launched the Tennessee city's first-ever transatlantic service in June 1995, using McDonnell Douglas MD-11s to fly to Amsterdam.[13][14] The airport had spent $12.6 million on a new customs area in preparation for the route.[15] KLM operated the flights until sometime between 2002 and 2003, when Northwest took over.[16][17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

Northwest was acquired by Delta Air Lines (which operates a large hub in Atlanta) in 2008, and Delta continued operating at Memphis as a hub, flying as many as 200 flights per day as recently as 2009.[20] The carrier maintained the nonstop link to Amsterdam until 2012; it explained that expensive fuel, diminished passenger numbers, and the state of the American and European economies had compelled it to withdraw the service.[21][22] Delta continued to scale back its operations at Memphis before closing the hub in 2013.[20] Passenger traffic at the airport 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.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25]

Thanks to factors such as the addition of Southwest Airlines and other low cost carriers, airport traffic has been rebounding in recent years.[26]



Landside departures level at Memphis International Airport

Memphis International Airport has a single terminal and three concourses with a total of 50 gates.[27] In 2021, all flights will consolidate to Concourse B, with concourses A and C being mothballed.[28] All non pre–cleared international flights are processed on the southwestern portion of B.[29]

  • Concourse A contains 9 gates.[27]
  • Concourse B contains 23 gates.[27]
  • Concourse C contains 18 gates.[27]


FedEx MD-11F taxiing at Memphis

Memphis International Airport has four runways.[3]

Runway Length Width Pavement
18C/36C 11,120 ft
3,390 m
150 ft
46 m
18L/36R 9,000 ft
2,700 m
150 ft
46 m
18R/36L 9,320 ft
2,840 m
150 ft
46 m
9/27 8,946 ft
2,727 m
150 ft
46 m

Ground transportationEdit

Memphis International Airport's passenger terminal can be accessed from Interstate 240 at exit 23B via Plough Blvd. It can also be accessed via Winchester Rd.

MATA Bus #28 offers connections to the Hudson and Airways transit centers.[30][31]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Air Canada Express Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson (resumes May 1, 2022)
Allegiant Air Austin, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando/Sanford, St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Cincinnati, Des Moines, Phoenix/Mesa, Pittsburgh, West Palm Beach
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami
Seasonal: Phoenix–Sky Harbor
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Washington–National
Seasonal: Orlando
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City [34]
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Boston(resumes June 7, 2022)
Frontier Airlines Denver, Las Vegas, Miami,[35] Orlando
Seasonal: Philadelphia
Southern Airways Express Destin–Executive, El Dorado, Harrison (AR), Hot Springs (AR) [37]
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Houston–Hobby, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa [38]
United Airlines Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare (resumes December 16, 2021), Houston–Intercontinental [39]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark [39]
Viva AerobusSeasonal: Cancún


Atlas Air Seasonal: Anchorage, Miami, San Juan, Los Angeles, Ontario
DHL Aviation Cincinnati, Nashville, New Orleans [40]
FedEx Express Aguadilla, Albany (NY), Albuquerque, Allentown, Anchorage, Appleton, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bloomington, Bogotá, Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Burbank, Burlington, 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, Frankfurt am Main, 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 [41][42]
FedEx Feeder Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Dothan, Evansville, Huntsville, Monroe, Tallahassee, Tulsa
Kalitta Air Seasonal: San Francisco
Kalitta Charters Cincinnati
UPS Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Jackson (MS), Little Rock, Louisville, Miami, Ontario, Roanoke [43]


Passenger trafficEdit

Annual passenger traffic at MEM airport. See source Wikidata query.

Top destinationsEdit

Busiest domestic routes from MEM (July 2020 - June 2021)[44]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 247,000 Delta, Southwest
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 168,000 American
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 147,000 American
4 Denver, Colorado 86,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
5 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 77,000 American, United
6 Houston–Intercontinental, Texas 60,000 United
7 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 54,000 Southwest
8 Orlando, Florida 44,000 Frontier, Southwest
9 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 40,000 American, Southwest
10 Dallas–Love, Texas 34,000 Southwest

Airline market shareEdit

Largest airlines at MEM (May 2020 - April 2021)[44]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest Airlines 413,000 21.48%
2 Delta Air Lines 338,000 17.55%
3 American Airlines 236,000 12.25%
4 Allegiant Air 177,000 9.20%
5 Republic Airways 160,000 8.29%
6 Other 601,000 31.23%

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.[45]
  • 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 on board died.[46]
  • 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.[47][48]
  • On May 18, 1978, a Dassault Falcon 20 C 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.[49]
  • 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.[50] 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.[51]
  • 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.[52]
  • 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 five 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 10, 2020.
  3. ^ a b FAA Airport Form 5010 for MEM PDF, effective October 25, 2007
  4. ^ "U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu Visits FedEx Memphis Superhub". FedEx Newsroom. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  5. ^ [1] Archived November 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Global Airport Cities 2013 – Welcome". August 11, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
  7. ^ "MEM March passengers drive 9.1% traffic increase". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  8. ^ "164th Airlift Wing".
  9. ^ "All sizes - Memphis 1956_0008 - Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr.
  10. ^ Clute, Eugene; Fenimore, Russell; Reid, Kenneth (1973). Progressive Architecture. 54. Reinhold Publishing Corporation. p. 46. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "Memphis Airport history". June 14, 1929. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Moseley, Jace. "The Death and Rebirth of Memphis (MEM) and Cincinnati (CVG)". Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  13. ^ "Daily Memphis-Amsterdam flights set". The Atlanta Constitution. November 5, 1995. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  14. ^ Ha, Hue (June 15, 1995). "Blues promotion seeks to gather European green". Clarion-Ledger. Jackson, MS. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  15. ^ "Memphis-Amsterdam air route opens". The Daily News-Journal. Murfreesboro, TN. Associated Press. June 28, 1995. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  16. ^ "KLM and partners world timetable, valid June 6 to August 31, 2003" (PDF). Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  17. ^ "KLM and partners world timetable, valid October 27, 2002 to March 29, 2003" (PDF). Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  18. ^ Andy Ashby (November 7, 2011). "Memphis airport unveils new tower, third tallest in U.S." Memphis Business Journal.
  19. ^ Trey Heath (April 27, 2008). "Airport begins $81 million construction project". Memphis Business Journal.
  20. ^ a b Mutzabaugh, Ben. "Delta to pull plug on Memphis hub after Labor Day". USA Today. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  21. ^ Ashby, Andy (October 30, 2012). "Delta Air Lines scratches Amsterdam from Memphis". Memphis Business Journal. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  22. ^ "Delta's 4Q2012 international route cuts free up significant widebody capacity". CAPA - Centre for Aviation. June 28, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  23. ^ Phillips, Bianca (February 20, 2014). "Memphis International Airport To Downsize Concourses". Memphis Flyer.
  24. ^ "Modernization Images". Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Phillips, Jerica. "Construction begins on $214M airport renovations". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  26. ^ Blinder, Alan (May 23, 2018). "The Trouble With the Memphis Airport: No Crowds". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c d "Terminal Map - Memphis International Airport". Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  28. ^ "Memphis airport readies for $214 million, three-year overhaul of B Concourse". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  29. ^ "MEM Airport Terminal Map". Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  30. ^ "Ground Transportation". Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  31. ^ "Route 28 Schedule" (PDF). Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  32. ^ "Allegiant Interactive Route Map". Allegiant Travel Company. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  33. ^ a b "American Airlines Map". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  34. ^ a b "Delta Air Lines Map". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  35. ^ "Frontier Airlines Announces 15 New Nonstop Routes". Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  36. ^ "Frontier". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  37. ^ "Routes - SOUTHERN AIRWAYS EXPRESS". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  38. ^ "Southwest Airlines - Route Map". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  39. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  40. ^ "Destinations Served". DHL Aviation Cargo. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  41. ^ Risher, Wayne. "FedEx announces $1 billion expansion of Memphis hub". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  42. ^ Nichols, Meagan. "New FedEx route connects China to Memphis". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  43. ^ "UPS Air Cargo: Airports". Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  44. ^ a b "Memphis International Airport (MEM)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  45. ^ Accident description for 43-15598 at the Aviation Safety Network
  46. ^ Accident description for 43-1976 at the Aviation Safety Network
  47. ^ Accident description for N4875C at the Aviation Safety Network
  48. ^ Accident description for Fairchild C-123B at the Aviation Safety Network
  49. ^ Accident description for N121GW at the Aviation Safety Network
  50. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  51. ^ "NTSB Identification: ATL84FA251". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  52. ^ 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