MEMPHIS, TN— A major face lift for Memphis International airport and it’s all thanks to a $31.8 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. U.S. Representative Steve Cohen of Memphis pushed for the grant because he says it's needed to improve the airport. Improvements will be made in three major areas: ramps, runways, and security.
"It's a grant that's very important for the future of the airport for safety and security,” said Congressman Cohen.
The FAA awards more than $3 billion a year for airport projects. Memphis was lucky enough to get a piece of that pie.
"The FAA realizes the importance of this airport because of the location and it's the second largest airport in the world dealing with cargo because of FedEx,” said Memphis city councilman Myron Lowery.
Thanks to a usual complement of flights and ongoing construction it's been busy at the airport. There is work happening right now to upgrade ramps and a new control tower was completed earlier this year.
"This airport is important to this economy. It is the growth engine of the Mid-South and this economy and therein lies the importance of why we need to constantly upgrade the ramps, and the runways with the latest technology and everything we can put in to it,” said Lowery.
Congressman Cohen will join other city leaders Monday morning at Memphis International airport to make the official announcement of the FAA grants.
All the improvements are great but what about high airfares at the airport? Congressman Cohen says he's working on a solution. Memphis and Shelby County has offered $1 million as incentive to airlines to bring service to the Bluff City. Southwest says it will be here within a year and Cohen says he's also talking with Jetblue Airlines. He says once Memphis has competing airlines that will drive airfares down.
Memphis International was named the most expensive U.S. airport in 2011 with an average fare of $476.