Memphis has a history of being a disruptive force – and in the entrepreneurial community locally it’s almost become cliché to cite our success stories (fill in the blank from grocery stores, to rock and roll, to Fedex.) That being said, I believe there is an opportunity to use our unique circumstances to disrupt another industry while creating a net benefit for Memphis and Memphians. That industry is Air Travel.
Air travel is universally reviled, from reduction of customer service and increased fees and “temporary” offset charges that become codified as standard operating procedure ($25 check bag fee, anyone?) and it all comes down to a perception of a lack of fairness. Airfares are anything but fair, with inexpensive lost-leader pricing for advanced sales giving way to price-gouging for last-minute tickets, as ultimately the airlines have to get an average of X per seat spread between theses price differences. But the feeling of unfairness is heightened here in Memphis where we’re treated as an afterthought by major carriers, especially since the departure of the NWA/Delta hub. Even the arrival of Southwest into our market has not given us the airfare reduction the public expected. I don’t need to go into the economics of why it’s cheaper to fly out of Little Rock or Nashville – it’s not important to my proposal – because on the surface our new airline would not be competing for the local routes.