N.O Airport kicks off $16.8 million expansion

March 17 2010 | Latest News
It is the gateway to New Orleans for travelers flying into the region. Over the years, Armstrong International Airport has seen its share of updates, but now it's about to get a major facelift.

Armstrong airport to begin major renovations, expansion

by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

WWL TV – Channel 4

Posted on March 17, 2010

KENNER, La. - It is the gateway to New Orleans for travelers flying into the region. Over the years, Armstrong International Airport has seen its share of updates, but now it's about to get a major facelift.

"The big picture is, we're going to modernize the whole airport," said New Orleans Aviation Board Chairman Dan Packer.

On Wednesday, the Aviation Board unveiled the first plans in a series of improvements for the airport. The $350 million project will include renovations, an expanded concourse, new eateries and possibly a hotel inside the airport.

"When you step off a plane and you got to an airport, you immediately feel good or bad about your surroundings, and certainly this is an economic engine, not only for the city of New Orleans, but indeed, this entire region," said Jefferson Parish Council Chairman John Young.

Work is already underway to expand Concourse 'D,' which will add six gates. The concourse expansion is expected to take about 18 months and should be finished by September of next year. The hope is that the improvements won't just lead to more visitors coming to the city, but also help attract new airlines.

"Of course, to attract the larger conventions, if we're going to be hosting meetings of 30,000 people or more, many of those people come from countries all over the world," said Kelly Schulz, spokesperson for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. "So, it's important to have more flights coming into the city and, once they do get here, they're going to have a good start to their trip by seeing our new modernized airport."

The money for the capital improvement projects comes from passenger facility charges-- a fee that travelers pay on each plane ticket in and out of Armstrong International. Hurricane Katrina, though, put a major dent in the number of travelers coming through the airport.

Before the storm, in 2004, the airport saw 9.35 million passengers. However, in 2006, after the storm, the number fell to 6.22 million. It's rebounded since then, with 7.78 million travelers coming through in 2009-- but that still falls short of the pre-Katrina numbers.

"We've been climbing slowly," Packer said. "Maybe not as much as we'd like, but certainly more than most of the airports in the United States."

Now, there is a race against time to get the airport ready, as the city prepares to host the Superbowl in 2013 and with New Orleans set to celebrate its tricentennial five years after that.

Changes To Airport Could Fly In Economic Changes

March 17, 2010

WDSU – Channel 6

The expansion of Louis Armstrong International Airport that was put on hold when Hurricane Katrina hit is taking flight again.

The design plans for the $33 million project began in 2003.

In 2005, Louis Armstrong International Airport was on track to service 10 million passengers.
However, when the storm hit, that number went to practically zero.

In 2009, 8 million people flew in and out of the airport, which is one reason why officials say this expansion is necessary.

The chairman of the Aviation Board, Dan Packer, said he’s glad to see the $33 million addition to the airport resuming.

“We're redoing the D concourse. We're actually adding onto it -- adding six more gates -- all modern architecture,” he said.

The new 44,000-square-foot concourse will have terrazzo floors with lots of windows, bathrooms, new restaurants and stores.

Crews will start to drive pilings in April and begin building the terminal's concrete structure. During the construction process, travelers can expect some inconveniences.

Airport leaders are asking all passengers to check their boarding passes to make sure they aren’t in the terminal that is closed.

Meanwhile, local lawmakers like Jefferson Councilman John Young, are excited about what it means for the metro area.

“The entire region is going to benefit,” he said. “From this, as we continue to bring tourists and bring business people into New Orleans, they are going to spend their money in St. Charles Parish, Jefferson Parish and the city of Kenner.”

Tourism leaders said it will only enhance the convention industry, which currently brings $1.5 billion to New Orleans.

The project will be funded by passenger fees added on to plane tickets, and is expected to be completed by September of 2011.

N.O. airport kicks off $16.8M expansion

March 17, 2010

BY: CityBusiness staff reports

New Orleans City Business – Up to the Minute

Construction will being at the end of this month on a $16.8 expansion of Concourse D at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, airport officials said today.

The airport is scheduled to hold a kickoff ceremony for the project at 11 a.m. today in the aviation board room.

In December, the New Orleans Aviation Board awarded the contract to McDonnell Group of Metairie.

The expansion, expected to be finished by late 2011, will add six airline gates in an open-rotunda format, doubling the capacity of the concourse.

The project will also include new food and beverage outlets, new retailers and restrooms.

“The addition of these gates will allow us to begin the transition of our terminal to the west, providing more modern and efficient facilities for our airline tenants and our passengers,” said board Chairman Dan Packer.

Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects of New Orleans is the project’s designer.

Passenger facility charges — fees collected from passengers getting on planes at airports — are funding the project, part of a $417 million airport capital improvement program.