Come Fly With Me
Louis Armstrong International Airport nears new terminal agreement.
It was reported this week that Louis Armstrong International Airport expects to reach a deal on Dec. 21 to move forward with a new terminal at an estimated investment of $650 million. If agreed upon, this will transform the footprint and capacity of the airport.
Designated as the “North Terminal”, the project will develop the area north of the existing airport and calls for a 650,000-square-foot facility. The new terminal is designed to have 30 Group III contact gates that will eventually be expanded to 42 gates total. According to the architectural design firm Leo A Daly, the terminal will also have parking for 2,000, closer connection to I-10, areas for hotel and retail development, and the necessary air travel components for efficient operations. This comes on the heels of ongoing construction and improvements at the current terminals.
While New Orleans is primarily visited by people driving their personal vehicles, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau found in their 2014 study that 45.1 percent of visitors arrived by plane. With the addition of Copa Airlines’ direct flights to Panama four times per week, this new terminal will position New Orleans well as an international destination and surely help fuel our tourism renaissance.
Construction on the North Terminal is slated for completion in 2018. Considering the potential lifting of travel restrictions to Cuba, the timing of the new terminal is perfect. Whether or not a grand opening in 2018 is realistic remains to be seen.
Rumors abound of meetings between area business developers and international airline representatives. Should the new terminal become a reality, it’s a matter of time before new airlines will be offering service to New Orleans.
With record-breaking visitor spending in 2014, and the 2015 numbers likely to tell more of the same story, it’s clear that the tourism and hospitality industry in New Orleans continues to grow. It certainly appears to be a priority for the Mayor’s office and critical stakeholders. And why shouldn’t it be?
New Orleans retains her special appeal year-round. Even in the hottest months, the scent of gardenia and lure of a sticky sweet snowball attract visitors from cooler climates. Investing in the infrastructure of the airport will help ensure easy travel, both for tourists and for local adventurers as well.