That's the message from consultant Brian Campbell who met Friday with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and mayors of surrounding towns.
"If you're going to have a large scale of hub services then you are going to have to have high fares to support the cost of that operation," he said at an afternoon press conference. "That's the choice you have."
Campbell said airlines have consolidated to become profitable, and 17 cities that lost hub status or a significant number of flights are larger than Memphis.
"It's almost an accident of history that Memphis is a hub," he said.
He said Memphians should support Delta.
"You need to support the Delta service that you have. It will do you no good to complain publicly or privately about Delta Air Lines. It's like getting upset at your neighbor. You feel good after you told him off, but you didn't advance the relationship any.
"I encourage you to continue to support Delta, to help them understand this market better. Try to get your corporations to support Delta and every other carrier that may be here in the future in terms of guaranteed seat purchases. But whatever you do, support Delta."
Still, he said, Delta may reduce daily departures from 145 to 123 later this year.
They may come down some more from 145 to 123 departures in November.
"The market is small, and that's your biggest problem, and there is nothing you can do about it," he said.
Southwest and jet blue should be our prime targets.
"They've got a lot on their plate now but I do believe that in time Southwest Airlines may come to Memphis. Jet Blue is a different matter. They may or may not come and this may not be the right time for them."
Campbell said Nashville overcame the loss of its hub, but it took several years, and Nashville is a wealthier market than Memphis.