By: Patricia Malone, Interim Director of Aviation
Last month was a month to remember. In addition to the annual Mardi Gras celebration, our beloved New Orleans Saints football team won the Super Bowl, bringing attention to New Orleans and our region for all the right reasons. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was pleased to be the hub in all of the action for aircraft ferrying both our team and fans to and from Miami. In the 72-hour period leading up to game day, the airport was a sea of black and gold with a chant of "Who Dat!” heard throughout the terminal. Our thanks go out to our airlines who added additional flights to accommodate the demand from local Saints fans. However, the celebration at the airport didn’t stop with the departure. It is estimated that over 20,000 fans were on hand to welcome the Super Bowl winners home at the north side of the airfield on their return from Florida. Saints fans have traditionally turned out in this location to welcome home the team after an away game, but the welcome home crowd was a record turnout. Our congratulations go to the city of Kenner for an excellent job in fan control and safety.
Armstrong International Airport has developed a new theme for the year that we feel is fitting considering the celebratory atmosphere that abounds in our area. "New Beginnings, Greater New Orleans” is the message. The Gulf South and Armstrong International Airport have been on the road to recovery for a number of years now. We feel New Orleans has finally reached a significant turning point and the Saints Super Bowl victory is the exclamation point on this fact. The world now knows New Orleans is back! Is there still work to be done? Yes. However, we as a city, a region and an airport have come a long way since August 2005. Looking to the future, we have a year ahead of us with new beginnings in a host of areas. New metro area governance will be in place and with it will come more ideas for continued recovery. The New Orleans Aviation Board and staff extend congratulations to the new leadership and look forward to working with them to promote the great things about our region. Using the Saints as an example, we as a region are winners and it is time to show it. Soon to be visible to our traveling public will be the new changes at the airport. As I have shared with you for a number of months, Armstrong International Airport is well underway with a $357 million dollar capital improvement program. Much of the work to date has been behind the scenes with projects such as a new security system, firehouse and apron rehabilitation. Though the work may not have high visibility, the impact on the public has been. The work to date has provided hundreds of jobs and put millions of dollars into the local economy. By the time the work is finished, thousands will have been employed and a number of communities will have benefited financially from the economic impact.
This year extensive renovations will be underway inside of the terminal. Though care will be taken to minimize inconvenience to passengers, there will be some changes in the location of ticket counters and some movement of flights to other concourses. Be sure to allow a few extra minutes and check your boarding pass to see which concourse you’ll be departing from because it may be different than the last time you flew. As we continue on our path of restoration, we want to say a big thanks to our New Orleans Saints. You have given us not only a great deal to cheer about but an example of how to be a winner despite adversity. To put it simply – Who Dat!