More than 1 million passengers traveled through the New Orleans airport in May, marking the busiest month on record for air traffic to and from the city. The surge in travel comes as new flights bring the airport's list of nonstop destinations to 54 cities on 15 airlines.
In a Friday (July 22) news release, Iftikhar Ahmad, director of aviation for Louis Armstrong International Airport, said low-cost airlines are making it cheaper for people to fly, a major factor driving the surge in New Orleans air traffic. Total passengers were up 10.6 percent compared with May 2015.
"Air travel is being redefined as the way to travel," Ahmad said. "With the emergence of low cost carriers, more people are able to afford flying."
Southwest Airlines remains the dominant carrier in New Orleans, shuttling about 186,800 passengers into the city and 203,800 passengers out of the city in May alone. Delta Air Lines, including Delta Express flights, is the city's second largest carrier, followed by American Airlines and United Airlines.
Multiple carriers have expanded or added connections to New Orleans this year.
In April, Spirit Airlines began additional daily nonstop flights to Atlanta and Los Angeles, and Allegiant Air started nonstop flights to Jacksonville, Fla. and St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. Frontier Airlines has also added flights from New Orleans to Philadelphia and Orlando.
Airport officials announced in June the city's first nonstop flight to Europe in more than 30 years. Germany's Condor Airlines will begin twice-a-week flights to Frankfurt starting next May.
Local officials see the Condor flight as well as the new $807 million North Terminal now under construction as a catalyst for increased international travel to New Orleans. Only 7,200 travelers arrived or departed New Orleans on an international flight in May, according to airport figures.
More than 4.7 million passengers have traveled through Louis Armstrong International Airport so far this year. The airport is on pace to surpass the 10.6 million passengers reached in 2015, the current all-time high.