Usually airlines tell their airports all the news ahead of time, good and bad. Sometimes, though, they have an interesting way of surprising their ‘partners’ with news. Take, for instance, Memphis, the Tennessee city where Frontier Airlines set up a mini-hub some six months ago. The Denver-based airline was experimenting with off-hub flying, linking the city on the Mississippi with Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando as well as Denver. It was warmly welcomed in Memphis, a Northwest hub where they love to lament a former resident, one Mr. E. Presley of the Graceland neighbourhood, almost as much as they love to hate Northwest. Then suddenly, Frontier said, well, things aren’t working out, what with fuel at almost $100 a barrel. It will end its Memphis routes (except the Denver service) in January. When contacted by the local paper, the Commercial Appeal, the airport vice chairman said it was news to him. Elvis, whose songs include 'Don't Leave Me Now', could not be reached for comment.
You can read the airport official's reaction here, along with the probing analysis of an old friend of yours. He hints at the real reason: Frontier’s pull-down at Memphis is part of a retrenchment to more traditional business-oriented routes (more Indianapolis, less Cancun) out of Denver. Word came just hours after Southwest Airlines announced a slew of new routes, including Denver-San Diego. The Southwest expansion, mostly business-centre-to-business-centre routes, comes as the Dallas-based carrier moves to focus on higher-yielding business travellers with a new fare structure. While Southwest says its target is the business flyer, many observers think that it is aiming squarely at Frontier.