Category: Public Interest

More on the return of Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines made its return to Memphis Friday. Check our homepage for a full rundown of the events. You also can check out some videos from the event on my Twitter page or Vine feed.

Each of Frontier’s 56 planes has one of the airline’s animal mascots painted on the tail. The flight that landed in Memphis Friday featured “Hector” the otter, whose hobby is “taking siestas. Lots of them.” You can learn more about Frontier’s animal mascots here.  Make sure that you bookmark Frontier’s website and follow the airline on Twitter.

Memphis International Airport officials were giddy over Frontier’s return, and for good reason. Memphis International is in a transition period, moving away from a hub airport dominated by Delta Airlines to one focused on origin and destination traffic and increased competition. Since Delta pulled the plug on the hub the number of flights at Memphis International have dropped dramatically.

The changes at Memphis International prompted a $114 million concourse modernization plan, which was highlighted when the Frontier jet from Denver arrived here in Memphis.

The Frontier flight arrived at Gate C7, one of the roughly 20 – 25 gates slated to be razed under the plan. The Frontier flight landed a little earlier than its scheduled 1:30 p.m. arrival time but had to wait to pull up to the gate because of a Delta plane that was departing. There was only one lane for both planes, a situation Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority president and CEO Scott Brockman said would be eliminated by the modernization plan.

“When people ask why we’re pursuing this plan, you just saw why,” said Brockman.

Judge approves transfer of Ashlar Hall

Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter, reversing a previous decision, upheld a 2013 transfer of Ashlar Hall from Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges to an acquaintance who wants to turn the stately but decaying property into a home for military veterans.

However, Potter said that while he approved the transfer of the property other groups interested in rehabilitating and operating the building could still pursue their plans and that he will pick the plan that has the best chance for success.

“My concern is for a quick turnaround of this structure,” said Potter during a Friday, Feb. 28 hearing. “If there were to be a better plan that is better financed or a much faster turnaround of the rehabilitation of the property the plans of whatever is presented will be reviewed.”

Last month, a furious Potter nullified the transfer of Ashlar Hall to Kenny Medlin after Medlin had failed to produce a plan for repairing and operating the building, but Medlin submitted his plan to Potter Friday.

“Mr. Medlin has presented me a financing plan whereby he hopes to renovate Ashlar Hall and where he intends to get the resources,” said Potter.

Hodges entered into an agreement with Potter’s court and the city last year to find a new owner that could make the repairs necessary to bring the 11,114-square-foot building into compliance. But Hodges deeded the property over to Medlin without Potter’s consent.

Two other groups are still actively pursuing Ashlar Hall.

Joe Thordarson, founder of the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention, plans to turn the building into a center for the arts.

“The question of ownership was settled today but the question of use of the building was not and I’m going to double-down on my pursuit of creating the AshlarHallCenter for the Arts,” said Thordarson.

Ty Cobb, founder of the nonprofit Have a Standard Foundation, said he will still pursue plans to turn the building into a center for experiential learning. Cobb’s foundation operates the CoreFire Commando learning program inside the AutoZoneChallengeCenter at the KrocCenter, which uses challenging games to foster an environment of innovation and teamwork.

Ashlar Hall, which was built in 1897 and served as the home of real estate developer Robert Brinkley Snowden, has turned into a dilapidated eyesore.

Hodges’ brother, Bernard Hodges, acquired the property for $300,000 in 1993 before transferring it via warranty deed to 1397 Central Ave LP in 1994. Robert Hodges began operating The Castle nightclub at the property after his brother acquired it, before closing the club’s doors around a decade later. The building has been vacant and deteriorating ever since, racking up a host of city code violations.

Potter said his goal is to find a viable owner that can save the building from the wrecking ball.

Memphis International Airport Joins Twitterverse

Memphis International Airport has taken flight on Twitter.

The airport joined the popular social networking site on Friday, Jan. 14 with @flymemphis.

The airport, which is under new leadership, has been criticized for having a poor public communications strategy but has taken steps to change that reputation. The airport has hired a public information officer and entered into a cooperative marketing agreement with the airlines to market service to and from Memphis.

Congressional Panel Tours FedEx, Port of Memphis

A Congressional panel visited Memphis this week in an effort to find ways to improve U.S. freight transportation.

The bipartisan panel toured FedEx facilities and the Port of Memphis, in addition to meeting with representatives of the region’s freight transportation community. The freight panel is a special panel of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Transportation accounts for up to 10 percent of a product’s total cost, so bottlenecks and limitations in our transportation system can significantly drive up the cost of everything we buy,” said Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), who chairs the freight panel. “By coming to Memphis, an important hub for U.S. freight transportation, the panel was able to see firsthand how efficiencies can be replicated and where challenges continue to exist throughout our national transportation system.”

Southern Airways Express Begins Booking Flights

Memphis-based Southern Airways Express said it has received final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin operations.

The airline’s website, iFlySouthern.com, also is now available for booking flights from Memphis to Destin, Fla., Panama City, Fla. and Gulf Shores, Ala. Later this month, Southern Airways Express also will add service from Memphis to New Orleans.

“We expect our summer 2013 schedule to be in full swing by June 26th, in time for family vacations and Independence Day travel,” said Stan Little, CEO and Chairman of Southern Airways Express.

The airline, which is backed by local investors who have chosen to remain anonymous, will help fill nonstop service gaps left by major carriers, Little said. Fares on all flights will range from $129 to $249 each way.

 

 

Dansette

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