Flying to the Big Easy Keeps Getting Easier
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport touts big wins this fall
It seems barely a week goes by when I don’t hear about a new air service coming to New Orleans as I drive to work in the morning. With the radio tuned to WWNO, our local NPR affiliate, the smooth voices frequently report, “It was announced today that a new air service from New Orleans will start…” Let’s recap, shall we?
Last week it was announced that Spirit Airlines is expanding service with new nonstop flights between New Orleans and Boston, Newark/New York, Tampa and Minneapolis/St. Paul beginning immediately. Seasonal service to Columbus, Ohio will also start in March 2018. These new routes are additions to other services Spirit started in 2017, including Baltimore, Cleveland and Orlando. In total, Sprit will now connect New Orleans to 15 destinations.
Spirit is known as a budget-friendly airline, as long as you don’t expect to bring much luggage or require much leg room. It plays an important role in the tourism industry by serving travelers who don’t want to or can’t spend as much money on plane tickets. Being allowed to bring more than a toothbrush and change of underwear with you is still being debated as to its “amenity” status.
On Oct. 31, it was announced that British Airways is increasing its service in response to market demand, which strengthens New Orleans’ position as a tourism and business destination. It began its service in March 2017, and in just seven months of operation, it has recognized an opportunity. British Airways added a fifth weekly flight, now operating is year-round service five times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
This is significant not in just connecting New Orleans to London. It’s the connections beyond Heathrow that will bring more opportunity to NOLA. British Airways alone connects to more than 130 destinations in Europe and beyond via Heathrow. As an industry leader, other international airlines are watching British Airways and we can anticipate more will follow in its footsteps.
That confidence in our international market can be seen in Condor Airlines’ early October announcement that it is returning its nonstop seasonal service to/from Frankfurt, Germany. The twice-weekly flights will operate May 17 through Sept. 30. Like British Airways, Condor connects to over 120 destinations in Europe from Frankfurt International Airport.
Earlier in the fall, three additional airlines added service to/from New Orleans, including Frontier, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. Frontier added four nonstop flights to Austin, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; Islip, New York; and San Antonio, Texas. These nonstop additions bring Frontier’s total destinations via New Orleans to seven. Alaska Airlines, partnered with Virgin America to operate the flight, added daily nonstop service between San Francisco and New Orleans.
These new routes are important not just for New Orleans, but for the entire state. According to Armstrong Airport, it is the primary commercial airport for Louisiana and serves over 80 percent of all passengers flying into the state. Data recently released by the Federal Aviation Administration show Armstrong Airport grew enplanements by 78 percent between 2006 and 2016, which makes it the second fastest growing airport in America over a ten-year period. In 2016 alone, it had more than 5.5 million total enplanements.
All of this is in advance of the game changer – the new North Terminal. With expected completion in February 2019, it looks to be a long pattern of growth for New Orleans air connectivity.