Taxpayers on the hook for new terminal at empty Memphis Airport

If you ran an airport that had very few passenger flights, it might not sound intuitive to build a new passenger terminal.  But if taxpayers pay for it, you'll quickly find the wisdom in it!

That's the thought process of the people who run Memphis Airport.  Memphis used to be a hub for Northwest Airlines until it merged with Delta.  Then flights were diverted to another hub, and Memphis's three terminals became mostly empty.

The view from the chief executive's office window at Memphis International Airport is as sweeping as it is dispiriting: On a recent afternoon, he could see 10 empty jet bridges and not a single airliner.

[The merger of Northwest and Delta] has sometimes left the spacious three-concourse terminal looking staggeringly deserted, with most of its gates unused. The airport's solution is to spend $219 million on what it is calling a modernization effort: closing and renovating Concourse B, and then consolidating operations there and essentially mothballing Concourses A and C.

(You can read more about it here and here.)

PIC

Image from Facebook.

Look at how the existing terminal looks.  Planners felt that this was a terribly outdated eyesore that had to go.  Look at those big holes in the ceiling!  Look at all the cracks in the floor!  The place could collapse at any minute!

That's why we, the taxpayers, have to pay millions to update it.

No local tax dollars will be used for the project, airport officials said, noting that the Airport Authority receives no local tax revenue.  The Airport Authority will take on debt (by issuing bonds) to fund most of the project.  Federal and state grants will also help fund the project. 

I couldn't find out what the exact federal "share" is.  But why should taxpayers pay for any of it?

Here is what you can expect in the updated B concourse:

• Higher ceilings
• Increased natural light
• Wider corridors and larger gate areas
• Additional seating
• Additional moving walkways
• Additional amenities such as additional charging stations in gate areas
• Children's play area
• Designed to modern seismic standards
• Stage for live music in the Rotunda area
• Additional lounge areas

Higher ceilings!  Increased natural light!  A stage for live music!  For $200 million?

It's difficult to even understand the thought process behind this.  Even with higher ceilings, the same number of planes will still be coming to the airport.  More lounge areas will not increase the number of planes or passengers.  It just seems as though since a lot of it is free money, it is being spent.

We are frequently told that we need to "spend more" on "infrastructure" because of our "crumbling bridges and roads."  But all too often "infrastructure" money is spent on questionable items such as this.

If the people of Memphis want to build a new terminal at their empty airport, they should pay for it themselves.  If they did, maybe they would wait to build it until more planes actually landed there.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.

If you ran an airport that had very few passenger flights, it might not sound intuitive to build a new passenger terminal.  But if taxpayers pay for it, you'll quickly find the wisdom in it!

That's the thought process of the people who run Memphis Airport.  Memphis used to be a hub for Northwest Airlines until it merged with Delta.  Then flights were diverted to another hub, and Memphis's three terminals became mostly empty.

The view from the chief executive's office window at Memphis International Airport is as sweeping as it is dispiriting: On a recent afternoon, he could see 10 empty jet bridges and not a single airliner.

[The merger of Northwest and Delta] has sometimes left the spacious three-concourse terminal looking staggeringly deserted, with most of its gates unused. The airport's solution is to spend $219 million on what it is calling a modernization effort: closing and renovating Concourse B, and then consolidating operations there and essentially mothballing Concourses A and C.

(You can read more about it here and here.)

PIC

Image from Facebook.

Look at how the existing terminal looks.  Planners felt that this was a terribly outdated eyesore that had to go.  Look at those big holes in the ceiling!  Look at all the cracks in the floor!  The place could collapse at any minute!

That's why we, the taxpayers, have to pay millions to update it.

No local tax dollars will be used for the project, airport officials said, noting that the Airport Authority receives no local tax revenue.  The Airport Authority will take on debt (by issuing bonds) to fund most of the project.  Federal and state grants will also help fund the project. 

I couldn't find out what the exact federal "share" is.  But why should taxpayers pay for any of it?

Here is what you can expect in the updated B concourse:

• Higher ceilings
• Increased natural light
• Wider corridors and larger gate areas
• Additional seating
• Additional moving walkways
• Additional amenities such as additional charging stations in gate areas
• Children's play area
• Designed to modern seismic standards
• Stage for live music in the Rotunda area
• Additional lounge areas

Higher ceilings!  Increased natural light!  A stage for live music!  For $200 million?

It's difficult to even understand the thought process behind this.  Even with higher ceilings, the same number of planes will still be coming to the airport.  More lounge areas will not increase the number of planes or passengers.  It just seems as though since a lot of it is free money, it is being spent.

We are frequently told that we need to "spend more" on "infrastructure" because of our "crumbling bridges and roads."  But all too often "infrastructure" money is spent on questionable items such as this.

If the people of Memphis want to build a new terminal at their empty airport, they should pay for it themselves.  If they did, maybe they would wait to build it until more planes actually landed there.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.