So Much So Fast

New Orleans had a busy fall. In fact, three of our top five stories of the year came about in a very short time.

First, The Sazerac House opened on Oct. 2. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the opening gala and was blown away at what a gem this building is for our city. It is such a perfect marriage of New Orleans’ rich historical cocktail culture blended with interactive technology — the best of old and new.

Then, only 10 days later, just seven blocks north on Canal Street, The Hard Rock Hotel collapsed, throwing the city, once again, into the national news, but this time in a heartbreaking way.

Then, just six days later, with New Orleans still very much in disaster mode, news broke that the airport’s new North Terminal would be open for business in just a few weeks. After four delays and over six years spent under construction, it seemed like such short notice that the wait was finally going to be over.

This is the fourth year Biz New Orleans has published a ranking of the top 10 business stories of the year, and every year the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has made the list. It’s not surprising, as this is a city driven by tourism — more and more so every year.

According to D.K. Shifflet & Associates, New Orleans welcomed 18.51 million visitors last year, a 4.29 percent increase in visitors compared to 2017. The city also saw a 3.91 percent increase in total visitor spending of $9.1 billion. The state as a whole welcomed 51.3 million visitors, bringing in $18.8 billion in spending in 2018, representing a 9% and 7% increase, respectively, over 2017.

A growing airport — and ours is the fifth fastest growing in the nation — means more new flights bringing more new tourists into the city. It makes us more attractive to businesses operating in this global economy, and it makes us more likely to attract more airlines and service routes — growing the airport even further.

GNO, Inc. President Michael Hecht did a great job of succinctly explaining the business side of airports in an email he sent out in mid-Nov where he said: “The business model of airports is structured so that first, airports collect all non-airline revenues, such as parking and retail. Then, the operating costs of running the airport (personnel, utilities, etc.) are subtracted. Whatever is left over is divided up amongst the airlines and charged to them as “cost per passenger.”

Basically, airports that make more revenue off an abundance of quality retail and restaurant options, as well as an abundance of parking — all of which our new airport has — are cheaper for airlines to operate in, thus more attractive.

More flights to more destinations…as someone with a family that chooses to spend any fun money we have on experiences over stuff, this is good news indeed.

Here’s to happy travels in 2020!