Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sammons Willing to Replace Perl at Airport Authority

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Jack Sammons
  • Jack Sammons
Former Memphis City Councilman Jack Sammons could be in line to replace Arnold Perl as chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority when the board meets later this month.

Perl announced his resignation as chairman and board member last month with four years remaining on his five-year term. The board chooses the chairman and is scheduled to meet on January 17th.

"I'm sure interested, but I have not talked to other board members," said Sammons, president of Ampro Industries. "I'm willing to serve."

The board's six members are Sammons, John Stokes Jr., Ruby Wharton, Jon Thompson, Jim Keras and Herb Hilliard. Sammons was appointed by former Shelby County Mayor Joe Ford.

Sammons said he "lives in the air" a good part of his time and was leaving Thursday to fly to Miami for $1,248 round trip.

Sammons would bring political experience, close ties to FedEx chairman Fred Smith, and a plain-spoken style to the job. He has played pinch-hitter for the city before, serving as chief administrative officer for interim mayor Myron Lowery when Lowery succeeded Willie Herenton.

"One thing I know how to do is sell," he said.

He would also bring continuity, for better or worse, as the board deals with cutbacks in service and high fares from dominant passenger carrier Delta Air Lines. In an interview with The Flyer in 2011, Sammons said, "We have more air service on a per-capita basis than any city in America, and there is a price for that. The authority has been aggressive for a generation in chasing low-cost carriers. It brought in Frontier Airlines, but they didn't last because Northwest matched their fares. The potential game-changer is Southwest buying AirTran. That is going to change Memphis prices in 12 to 24 months."

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