Why don't we fly to St. Louis?
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Good question. We get it (or a variation of it) a lot.
The short answer: St. Louis is too close. So is Nashville, Little Rock, Jackson, Birmingham, etc.
Here’s the long answer: From an economic standpoint, it doesn't make sense for most major airlines to offer a flight somewhere that's within a half-day's drive of Memphis because then they're competing with ground transportation, not other airlines. To effectively compete with cars (or busses or trains), airlines would have to offer extremely low airfares and have some reasonable expectation that the flights would be full.
In dense, affluent markets that kind of model is possible – there are a number of airlines that offer low-cost, business shuttle services between Boston, New York and Philadelphia, for example. But it’s a tall order in a market like ours; we simply don’t have the numbers to support such a service.
Fact is, recreational travelers (the bulk of folks who use MEM) would rather drive if they could. This has been well-proven in the travel industry, and it makes sense when you think about it; when choosing between flying or driving, even with a super cut-rate airfare, most folks would rather just drive a few hours than go through parking, ticketing, checking bags, security and car rental. And then doing it all again to come home.
That’s not to say we won’t try to get service to St. Louis, or other destinations in nearby/neighboring states. There are smaller carriers who specialize in short hop regional service (including GLO, Southern Airways Express and SeaPort Airlines, all of which operate here) and we’re always encouraging them to add new routes from MEM.
And we’re Cardinals fans, too, so there’s that. Perhaps one day we can make it happen.
We’ll keep trying.