10:44am

Fri June 7, 2013
Business

Delta Air Lines to close Memphis hub, Shreveport nonstop service eliminated

Delta Air Lines announced this week that it will close its Memphis, Tenn., hub after the summer travel season. This means Shreveport Regional Airport will lose its two, daily nonstop flights to Memphis after Aug. 30. Shreveport Airport Authority spokesman Mark Crawford said Delta plans to increase daily flights to Atlanta to make up the difference, so he doesn’t anticipate a loss of seats. Delta is in the process of reducing its fleet of 50-seat regional jets, Crawford said, and replacing them with larger, more economical Boeing 717s.

"Delta will acquire 85 Boeing 717 planes, which are about 115 seats that will then filter into their network. This means they can bring the 70- and 90-seat planes to markets like Shreveport," Crawford said.

Shreveport airport management is attending an airline industry conference under way in Atlanta. It provides an opportunity for face-to-face meetings with dozens of carriers. Crawford said it’s akin to speed dating for the airline industry. Shreveport requested a dozen meetings and landed 10 presentations. He said it’s important to stay in contact with prospective carriers despite past rejections.

“The airline industry could change at the drop of a hat. All of a sudden, Southwest, Jet Blue, Virgin America or Spirit could say, You know what, let’s try to go into a smaller market like Shreveport and see how it goes," Crawford said. "That's why we try to keep all communication lines open with all the carriers whether we have them or not, whether we’ve been told no every time we talk to them as is the case with Southwest and Virgin America.”

The new nonstop flights to Denver on United Airlines are running about 80 percent full, which is good news, Crawford said. Delta ticket holders who have a scheduled connection through Memphis after Aug. 30 should contact Delta to get rebooked. Delta has served the Shreveport market for more than 80 years.