Airport Cities Conference – Day Two

Day two of the Airport Cities World Conference & Exhibition.

Tuesday is the main event with the two most powerful corporate leaders in the city’s air economy sharing the same stage this morning – FedEx founder Fred Smith and Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson. And tonight, a gala at Graceland.

Our story on the comments by Smith and Anderson is already on the web site. Look for a more definitive version in Wednesday’s daily which goes on line at four this afternoon.

Some other notes from the gathering:

This is the 10th such gathering and the Memphis conference has the largest group of any of the gatherings.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. joked that his initials stood for Airport Cities. “If you start the day off lying, you might as well start big,” he quipped.

Wharton spoke after an incendiary talk by Greg Principato, the president of the Airport Council International, in which Principato nearly stole the show from Smith and Anderson. The details of that are in the story that goes on line at four.

There were quite a few murmurs in the audience of around 700 in the Continental ballroom when he finished the speech targeting air lines for not doing more to support the financing of airport infrastructure.

Wharton broke the ice by beginning, “Well, Greg got up and scared the daylights out of you.”

He then ran through a familiar list of Memphis songs, reciting a few lines from Chuck Berry’s “Memphis” telling the delegates that they are in “Marie’s living room.”

Cong. Steve Cohen came up with another tune from the pantheon of Memphis hits – this one with an air travel theme – “The Letter” by The Box Tops. One small quibble. Cohen said Box Tops lead singer Alex Chilton wrote the song that begins “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane” – not airplane but aeroplane.

The tune was written by Wayne Carson Thompson and recorded at American studios at the corner of Danny Thomas Boulevard and Chelsea in North Memphis.

Cohen was eloquent on the aerotropolis topic, noting the saying that the road to economic development begins with a road. “Today, it’s a runway,” he added as he likened the aerotropolis concept to “the interstate system of the 21st century.”

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