Fly Me to the Moon

New Orleans’ flight options continue to grow


Elon Musk isn’t in New Orleans with SpaceX flights yet, but the team at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) might just get us there one day. In the meantime, they are on a winning streak with new flight itinerary announcements.

Last week, Condor Airlines announced it would return to New Orleans next summer with nonstop service to Frankfurt, Germany. Earlier this month, Vacation Express also announced that it would provide direct flights from MSY to Montego Bay, Jamaica beginning May 2019. In November, Southwest is beginning daily nonstop service to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, and Sun Country Airlines will begin service from New Orleans to Nashville, Tennessee Nov. 2.

In the past 10 years, MSY has gone from 39 nonstop flights to 53 nonstop flights, including seven international destinations such as Frankfurt, Germany and London, England. This growth led to consecutive years of record-breaking numbers of passengers with over 10 million in 2015, 11.1 million in 2016, and over 12 million in 2017.  

The team at MSY has been engaging in a multilayered process of cultivating airlines to better serve its passengers.

“The process of recruiting the new flights and airlines is complex, and in many cases, takes several years,” said Erin Burns, director of communications for the New Orleans Aviation Board. “The airport frequently analyzes the Greater New Orleans market’s demand for travel and meets with airlines multiple times a year to recruit new flights for the region. Airport staff must present a compelling business case to the airline that proves community demand and support for the service that will prove more profitable than requests from various other cities competing for that aircraft’s time.”

Compelling an airline to agree to a new service is just the first step.

“Once the airline commits to starting service, we take all the necessary steps to enable a smooth and successful launch,” explained Burns. “This can include coordinating public events to welcome new flights, working with carriers and third-party operators to improve service levels, remodeling airport facilities and making necessary technology improvements to allow for the successful launch and expansion of each airline in the current airport terminal.”

Burns said another major factor in developing air service is making sure the new flights have enough support from the community to retain the service once it launches. The airport works closely with tourism partners and remains committed to recruiting additional flights to connect Louisiana to destinations world-wide.

As a result of the airport’s efforts, MSY’s passenger growth is on track to continue. Last year’s record-breaking 12 million passengers marked a 7 percent growth over 2016. According to Burns, as of August 2018, the airport’s total passengers are up 10.8 percent when compared to the same period last year.

These wins are all in advance of the new North Terminal opening. Now slated to begin serving passengers May 2019, the $1 billion, 35-gate terminal will transform the experience of flying in and out of New Orleans.

“When the new terminal opens in May 2019, the airport will have the infrastructure in place to support future growth in flights,” said Burns. “The new MSY will have one consolidated security checkpoint providing access to all three concourses once travelers process through. Additionally, Concourse A in the new terminal will have up to five gates capable of handling international flights, which will allow us accommodate increased international flights should the need arise.”

The team at MSY is proving, if you build it, they will come.



Categories: Tourism Biz