Archive for the ‘airport authority’ Category

Sleepless Or Desperate In Memphis

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Sleepless Or Desperate In Memphis

April 24, 2017


I must admit that I have been sleepless since reading about the Airport expansion and the Pop-Up Park project reported recently in the CA.

As a taxpayer, the Airport Authority and the Riverfront Development  Corporation are two of my least favorite organizations.

First the Airport Authority. This is a big time operation in terms of expenditures but look at the results.

In the year 2000 we had 10.6 million total passengers. In 2007 we had about the same numbers of total passengers. In 2013 we had 5.5 million passengers. Yet in 2001 they were planning the three story parking garage addition. In 2007 they stated in the CAFR that the new garage would proceed at a cost of $70 million dollars. Forward to 2009 and read the Memphis Business Journal article about the new $150 million dollar parking garage. Where did the money come from? $20 million from the Federal Aviation Administration, $50 million from the Tennessee Department of Transportation with the remainder in airport authority bonds. Get the picture. The Federal and State money is free money (it really is taxpayer money) and must be spent regardless of the benefits of the investment.

Then in 2014 here is what was reported.

Memphis International Airport lashed back Thursday at last year’s de-hubbing by

Delta Air Lines with a $114 million plan to shrink the facility but improve the

experience for airlines and passengers.

Airport managers presented plans to spend $3 million tearing down a fourth of the

gates and $111 million upgrading much of what remains. They propose to consolidate activity into a refurbished and expanded B Concourse, mothball remaining gates in the other two terminals and leave ticket lobbies and the front of the airport unchanged.

Now we read the following.

Airport unveils $214 million plan

Memphis International Airport proposes to spend $214 million over five years on a transformative project that will build all-new passenger facilities in the airport’s oldest concourse.

Airport officials on Thursday unveiled a redesign of a three-year-old preliminary concept for B Concourse modernization and said the price tag is up about $100 million from what was previously estimated.

Airport president Scott Brockman said the new number is “all-in,” including non-construction costs and improvements that will help minimize impact on passengers when the B Concourse is shut down for reconstruction in 2018.

The modernization, which should begin in early 2018, will focus on expanding a majority of the B Concourse’s gates, leaving one section the same size but updated. It will literally raise the roof and blow out the exterior walls on the reconstructed sections, increasing ceiling height to 14 to 19 feet from nine feet and widening the concourse by about 30 to 40 feet.

If anyone can make sense of all these expenditures and where we are heading, please let me know.

It seems to me what we need is lower fares combines with direct flights from Memphis to desirable locations. Recently some of my family went to Mexico for spring break. They drove to Nashville to get lower fares and direct flights. Go figure.

Considering the size of the Airport expenditures the Pop-Up Park project seems insignificant by the Riverfront Development Corporation. They want to keep their jobs at RDC and they have to come up with ideas to keep themselves relevant. Put down some basketball courts and a skating rink and then take it back up when Memphis in May is over.

What are your thoughts about these projects? I would love to hear from you.

My Memphis Airport Experience

Monday, April 18th, 2016

April 18, 2016

My Memphis Airport Experience

I am not a fan of current airplane travel experiences. Let me count the ways.

My wife and I recently completed a trip from Memphis to San Francisco to visit my daughter, son in law and grandson. I looked on line and booked a flight out to SFO on United Airlines with a connection in Denver. The flight left Memphis at 7:16 AM so we got up about 4:30 to do all those things necessary before driving to the airport. We got to the airport about 6 AM to proceed through security. Before security I took everything out of my pockets except my driver’s license and boarding pass. I was allowed to keep on my belt and my shoes. The flight was pleasant enough considering the reduced space between seats. We were not seated across from the airplane Outhouse thank goodness. The connection flight to San Francisco was on time and we arrived in SFO about noon. Getting the rental car in SFO is a trial as you have to take the Air Train and then track down the agent and car.

The stay in Sebastopol in Sonoma was wonderful and we enjoyed three nights there. Then the trek back home. Another night near the SFO airport and then back to turn in the car after getting the luggage checked in. The return flight was on American thru Dallas. Again the seat spacing was even tighter. The flight from San Francisco to Dallas was late and we had to rush from Terminal A to C in Dallas on the air train and just made it late in the boarding process. The flight to Memphis was OK except the last 15 minutes was very bumpy due to thunderstorms.

The arrival was at 10 PM and by the time we got to the luggage area all the free carts were gone to other folks. I went and got the car from the long term parking garage and was expecting to pay $6 per day but was surprised at the bill for $15 per day or $75.00 total. I objected but my protests fell on deaf ears.

Two days later I went back to the airport to check out the signage about parking rates and directions. I now know that I misread these two signs. I went straight ahead instead of a sharp left turn. Later I went to the airport website and sure enough the explanation was there. I wonder how many of you readers have made my mistake.

I have attached some pictures that show the signs as you navigate the directions to the massive parking garage. My mistake was proceeding straight ahead instead of making a quick left turn. Sorry fellow, that will be $45 extra. Has anyone else out there made the same mistake?

I have wondered in the past how the Airport Authority justified the huge cost for the parking garage which ruined the view of the beautiful airport building and put all the Park-Ride and Fly people out of business. Then I wondered about the recent CA story of two Vice Presidents at the Airport Authority leaving and getting paid. One oversaw airport concession agreements, parking and rental cars, disadvantaged and minority business programs, contract compliance and leasing of airport-owned properties. Both were being paid $191,000 per year. Interesting. What has been your airport experience? I would like to know.

Flying In Or Out Of Memphis

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

March 4, 2014

Flying In Or Out Of Memphis

Yesterday I sent a letter to the editor of Commercial Appeal and it was published. It is shown below. As I read some of the reader comments to the letter, I was criticized for not being supportive of the new parking garage and for the future of Memphis. Believe me I want Memphis to grow and succeed and to get its fiscal house in order. Last week I asked for financial reports from the airport authority and while they were not published on the internet, they did send me electronically a huge list of Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs), a recent S&P credit rating report and lots of other information. All of this should be on their website but currently is not posted.

Here is some of the relevant data.

In the year 2000 we had 10.6 total passengers. In 2007 we had about the same numbers of total passengers. In 2013 we had 5.5 million passengers. Yet in 2001 they were planning the three story parking garage addition. In 2007 they stated in the CAFR that the new garage would proceed at a cost of $70 million dollars. Forward to 2009 and read the Memphis Business Journal article (more…)

Bait And Switch

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

May 30, 2013

My wife and I just came back from a trip to San Francisco to visit two of our daughters,  a son in law and a new (1 year old) grandchild. Wonderful visit, great weather and good food. However being a dedicated grouch I have to complain about something and why not the airport and the air travel.

First the air travel. In the past we could travel nonstop from Memphis to San Francisco. Now it is a broken flight, Memphis to Dallas, Dallas to San Francisco. This adds 3 to 4 hours to the flight time and by the time I got the reservations, our seats were almost next to the airplane outhouse. Then there is the TSA (transportation security administration). Due to my age I do not have to take off my shoes but almost everything else has to come off including my belt. Long lines, grim looking people and millions of dollars of equipment. Thanks Osama for your contribution to our lives. (This airport security job should be turned over to private contractors but this makes too much sense).

But the real annoyance came on returning to Memphis. Normally I park at Park and Fly but since this has been sold to the Airport authority, I parked at the long term airport parking facility. Last February on a four day trip I parked at the new facility at an advertised price of $6 per day. This is the bait and switch deal as it is now $11.00 per day. I assumed that the $6 price still applied for this trip. WRONG. As I was walking to Kingdom Come to get my car I saw a sign put up by the airport authority (which they should now take down) stating “Don’t do the Airport shuttle, Park here for $6/day”. Therefore my price went from the expected $30.00 to $55.00.

The next question is what did the airport authority pay for the Park and Fly facility at Winchester and Airways? More on this later.

$150 Million For Airport Parking and Rental Cars! Why?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

November 28, 2012

There was an article in the CA yesterday about further cuts in Delta flights and service to and from Memphis. Could it get worse? Yes, we found out it could.

I have always been proud of our airport. It is a truly beautiful architectural job. At night, bring on the bubbly for the champagne flutes.


The New Airport Parking and Rental Car Center

Monday, March 12th, 2012

March 11, 2012

I have become interested in learning more about public bonds and our local debt. Ho hum I hear you saying but it is important and affects your tax bill and how much you have to spend on food, housing, education, travel, entertainment and health care.

Recently I went to pick up my brother from the airport and there was this big building under construction partially blocking my view of what is a beautiful airport entrance. Later I contacted the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority and asked for information on the project. Brian Kuhn, General Counsel, responded promptly and completely and I appreciate his response and information.

I have attached his letter and the front page of the bond document. On the front page it is very clear that the State of Tennessee, Memphis and Shelby County are not on the hook in case things do not work out for this investment. That is good and this type of front end clear statement should be part of all public debt instruments and be available online to the taxpaying public.

Now as to whether this is going to work out and be financially viable, that is another question. I don’t know about you but I am very unhappy with the whole air fare situation and air service selection in Memphis. (See a letter to the editor this morning). Any trip less than 500 miles and I am probably driving and then I don’t have to pay an additional charge for my luggage. With the advent of Skype and other visual communications, visiting in person is not as important as it used to be, especially in business.

I wish the Airport Authority well as generally they have a good management history compared to the City of Memphis. I hope the parking and car rental structure works out but at least, considering local taxes, it is not likely to cost me more which cannot be said for other local bonds, pension and health care costs.