Seeking new ways to provide first class customer service at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is a priority for the New Orleans Aviation Board (NOAB) and staff. In fact, it is just as important as our capital improvements, if not more so. One of the first steps the NOAB has taken to improve customer service is to institute a new Customer service training policy. Any employee who needs a security badge to work at the airport, regardless of their duties or employer, must take and pass the new Customer Service Training Module. It is a 25 minute video with test questions, designed to explain to the employee their role as a "special” passenger service agent. It highlights the problems our passengers may encounter when traveling through Armstrong International Airport and how to assist them with solutions. Our passengers are our priority and we want their travel through the airport to be enjoyable. We currently staff one information booth in the center of the terminal with experienced, bi-lingual customer service agents. The NOAB is developing a Customer Service Program that will add to the ranks of our staff and enlist the aid of "roving” airport customer service representatives. These individuals will be easily identified and will be located throughout the terminal to aid passengers with their needs. Another step the Aviation Board has taken to enhance customer service at the airport is to change the hours of operation of our vendors for the convenience of our passengers. Hours for food and gift services will now be from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. except for Concourse A. Its food and gift service hours will be from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to accommodate the final departure of the last airline operating on the concourse.
Very soon, our traveling public will begin to see and possibly feel the impact of our $400+ million dollar Capital Improvement Program as we begin our interior and exterior renovations of the terminal. This next step of the modernization effort will involve the movement of ticket counters and other fixtures that may disrupt the normal movement patterns in the facility. We will make every effort to minimize the inconvenience to our customers and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we move forward with serious progress. I encourage our passengers to arrive a little early to allow sufficient time to check-in and please bear with us during the construction. Change is never easy. However, this is change our community has been requesting and it is change for the better.
I am pleased to announce that beginning in October of this year we will once again have direct non-stop service to Toronto, Canada. But this time not on just one Canadian carrier, but two. The first to announce service was WestJet, a low cost carrier, who has been in operation for 14 years. This will be their first entry into the New Orleans market. Their new nonstop to New Orleans will begin November 1, 2010 on a Boeing 737-700 with 136 seats in a single class of service configuration. The seasonal service will operate 4 times per week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday through April. The other carrier is Air Canada, whom we are delighted to welcome back. This airline served our market until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Their new daily nonstop to New Orleans will begin October 30, 2010 with a Canadair CRJ-705 which seats 75 passengers.Our airport staff is constantly in touch with airline representatives from both domestic and international carriers in an effort to persuade them to consider New Orleans as their next destination, or to increase the level of service from existing carriers. Of course, the driving force in a decision by any airline is customer demand. I hope the New Orleans market will prove to both WestJet and Air Canada that they have made a great decision to serve the Crescent City. As you can see in my report, there continues to be a lot of positive activity at Armstrong International Airport. It is our pleasure to serve our communities in the Greater New Orleans Metro area and River Region. Our goal will always be to provide a great travel experience through MSY with great customer service in a modern facility that our neighbors are proud to call home. We are committed to changing
our airport for the better, both inside and out.