Airport Authority Discusses Parking Garage

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Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority board chairman Jack Sammons told his board Thursday morning that "if we hadn't built the ground transportation center, we'd be in trouble."

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Revenues and savings from the new parking garage were shared at the board meeting this morning, and all seemed to agree that the parking garage is helping the airport financially.

"We are better off by $4 million a year because we built the ground transportation center," said Forrest Artz, the Airport Authority's Vice-president of Finance and Administration, at the monthly board meeting.

That's partly because they're saving $2 million a year in busing costs from shuttling employees and passengers to and from the neighboring parking businesses.

In fiscal year 2012, before the new garage opened, public parking revenues from other parking lots at the airport totaled around $10 million, but they were spending $2 million to shuttle people to their vehicles.

The projected revenues for 2014, $12.4 million, include what they expect to bring in from the new garage. But they only expect to spend a little over $100,000 for shuttling costs and $850,000 in parking garage operating costs.

By 2015, they expect to phase out shuttling and expect parking revenues of $13 million.

The new garage did better for the month of February than the Airport Authority had budgeted it would.

In February, the authority budgeted $473,000 for expenses related to the parking garage, but it only spent $296,000. Actual expense numbers fell under-budget for the garage year-to-date as well. In fact, the authority is seven percent under-budget for all operations year-to-date.

In other news, Vice-president of Operations John Greaud said the airport would soon be getting new flight information screens that will show passengers all flights from all airlines. Currently, the existing screens are operated by each airline and some don't even have them.

The number of people flying into and out of Memphis is also up by six percent for the month.

Sammons took a few minutes at the end of the meeting to talk about the plans to tear down parts of the A and C concourses. He said Southwest Airlines is not interested in expanding service without having a more open taxiway, which would be created after parts of A and C are demolished. Currently, planes from multiple airlines are getting backed up because there's not room on the taxiway for enough planes coming in and out. It's a problem that was created when Delta pulled its hub status and a larger variety of airlines began operating flights. Now the ends of A and C concourses get in the way of planes from different airlines that need to take off or come in at the same times.

"You can't have a car lot without a driveway," Sammons said.

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