It’s December Already?
It is hard to believe that the holiday season is already here. The past 12 months have been very busy at Memphis International Airport and we were able to make a lot of forward progress on a variety of different construction projects. Not only were we able to break ground on our new air traffic control tower, but we dedicated our new $11 million Daniel Ward Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Facility, in honor of Daniel Ward, the Airport Authority's longest-serving Commissioner.
One of the most significant events this year was the dedication of the new $245 million facility for the 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard. The new facility is one of the most technically and physically advanced Air National Guard Bases in the country. The dedication was the culmination of one of the largest Air National Guard projects in history. The move from the 103-acre base at the airport's north end was made possible by a historic land exchange agreement between the Air National Guard, FedEx and the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.
Of course, a large part of our energy this year has been focused on what the merger between Delta and Northwest means for Memphis International Airport. Memphis will remain a hub airport in the new merged airline. When Delta CEO Richard Anderson visited Memphis earlier in the year he reiterated the combination of the two airlines' route networks will provide greater opportunity for future growth in air service from Memphis International and that Memphis will benefit from its close location to Atlanta.
Memphis International Airport has received numerous awards and accolades throughout the last 12 months. For the 16th consecutive year, Memphis International was ranked the number one Air Cargo Airport in the world. In May, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Memphis International Airport third in customer satisfaction among medium-sized U.S. airports in its 2008 North American Airport Satisfaction Study – this was a 14 place improvement over its position last year.
Memphis’ Fixed Base Operators have been gaining national attention as well. In June, General DeWitt Spain Airport was named the official winner of the "Best Bargain, Best Help" award, a fictional award created by Flying Magazine reporter Dick Karl in his article on "The Royal Treatment" offered by Fixed Base Operators (FBO) around the country. But General DeWitt Spain was not the only general aviation facility receiving the accolades. Wilson Air Center - Memphis was named the number one Fixed Base Operator in the country for the ninth consecutive year by Aviation International News. Wilson Air was also named the number one Corporate Aviation Support Facility Chain in Professional Pilot magazine's 2008 Preferences Regarding Aviation Service and Equipment (PRASE) survey.
Memphis International continues to look to the future. The Master Plan has entered its second phase during which the consultants will formulate and evaluate all the alternatives to meet the expected requirements and then prepare an implementation plan and a financial feasibility analysis. A new airport-layout plan will be drafted to illustrate best alternatives for implementation. The Master Plan will be completed by the end of 2009.