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A World Class Airport for a World Class City - 5/1/2013 -

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On Wednesday, April 17, the New Orleans Aviation Board took action to accept the recommendation from consultants contracted to do a study for the location of a new terminal. Four alternative sites were reviewed. The alternative options were (1) refurbishing the existing terminal site or build a new terminal on the (2) Southside, (3) Westside or (4) Northside of the existing campus. The recommended alternative that was approved by the Board was the option for the Northside of the airfield (see illustration on side 2). The completed comprehensive analysis came less than two years after New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu requested the Aviation Board undertake an in-depth and robust analysis of the four proposals for the future of the airport from the airport’s master plan. The study looked at financial feasibility, environmental impact, design, and operational impacts, including potential uses for the existing terminal and surrounding infrastructure.

The need for a new terminal is predicated on the age and operational efficiency of the existing structure. The current airport terminal is on-average 30 years old, and its infrastructure and set up will over time have the potential to drive up operational costs to high, unsustainable levels. The existing terminal also generates relatively low revenue from parking and concessions due to the layout of the facility. This high cost, low revenue model makes costs higher for the airlines to operate, and therefore puts the airport at a competitive disadvantage for attracting new flights and business. Even though a $300+ million modernization has just been completed in advance of Super Bowl XLVII, the behind-the-wall infrastructure is in need of an overhaul. This became especially obvious during the renovation. According to the results of the analysis the north alternative will provide the best opportunity for revenue growth and sustainable operating costs, in addition to giving the Airport and region the best job and economic development potential. It is expected to create over 13,000 construction jobs.

The Northside terminal project will cost approximately $650 million with possible additions that include a $72 million power plant project, $87 million for a flyover addition from I-10 to improve access to the airport and $17 million for a potential on-site hotel. The total cost is estimated at $826 million. Pending completion of environmental reviews, which will include community engagement, construction is expected to commence in 2014 with a target completion date of May 2018 which coincidentally will be the 300 year anniversary of the City of New Orleans. The funding sources will come from various airport self-generated funds along with federal and state aviation grants. The City of New Orleans will not be funding any part of the new terminal projects. To streamline the remaining design and construction process, the City of New Orleans and New Orleans Aviation Board are seeking approval from the state legislature to use the Construction Manager At Risk method (SB 65 by Senator Ed Murray). The proposed terminal will be on the existing airport property.

Mayor Landrieu said, "The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport serves as a gateway to millions of tourists and business travelers each year and is a critical driver for the creation of jobs and economic development. It makes economic sense (to build the new terminal) and will create 13,000 jobs in construction. This project is about investing in the future.” Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni said, "This couldn’t come at a better time for the City of Kenner, which is also looking to embark on an ambitious beautification and improvement program for our major corridors and intersections.” And St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said, "As our region continues to grow, it is important for all of us to unite behind a modern terminal that will represent the strength of the entire Greater New Orleans region. In addition, the growth of the airport’s multimodal cargo capabilities will continue to expand our thriving economy. This expansion will provide jobs and increased tax revenues for St. Charles Parish in a relatively short amount of time.” City Council members from New Orleans and Kenner, the New Orleans Metro Legislative Delegation, regional civic, business and tourism leaders agree. For information about this exciting project, visit our website, and click on the "A World Class Airport” link on the home page, then scroll down to the Executive Summary link at the bottom of that page for more detail.

In other news, I am pleased to announce that direct flight service to Cancun will begin on May 26 from Armstrong International Airport. Vacation Express, one of the largest tour operators in the southeast United States with over 22 years of experience in the charter business has announced non-stop seasonal service through August 11, 2013. The air service will be aboard an Aero México B737-700 aircraft that has a seating capacity of 124 passengers (12 First Class and 112 Coach Seats). The weekly flight will operate on Sundays. The scheduled flights will be on Aero México flight 9278 that departs Cancun at 10:40 a.m. and arrives in New Orleans at 12:55 p.m. The return will be on Aero México flight 9279 that departs New Orleans at 2:10 p.m. and arrives in Cancun at 4:25 p.m. All flights are currently on sale and filed with the Department of Transportation. To book a flight you must visit the Vacation Express website at or telephone 1-800-309-4717. Cancun will be our 40th non-stop destination and our second non-stop international destination. The other international destination is Toronto, Canada. Daily service to Toronto is provided by international carrier, Air Canada.

As you can see, from new air service to a new terminal, the New Orleans Aviation Board is working to provide travel opportunities and facilities that our community deserves and wants. I look forward to briefing you on our continued progress in the months ahead.


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