The drudgery of picking up a rental car at an off-site lot will soon be a thing of the past at Louis Armstrong International Airport, with construction starting this month on a new rental car facility connected to the main terminal.
Louis Armstrong International AirportArchitect's rendering of the new consolidated rental car facility at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Construction is set to begin this month. undefined undefined undefined undefined
The facility will include a 30,000 square foot customer service building, a 3-level garage and four rental car maintenance centers. It is the latest in a series of modernization projects for the airport, which also includes the expansion of Concourse D and a face lift for the main ticketing area.
"We must make the infrastructure better so the experience you get when walking through this place is better," said Iftikhar Ahmad, who started work as aviation director on May 24.
The new rental car facility will eliminate the busing of customers to outdoor lots on the airport grounds and across Airline Drive with the construction of an on-site, 3-level garage. The garage will be connected to the customer service building, which will include administrative offices and rental car counters, currently located near the baggage claim area. There will also be four rental car services centers for the fueling, maintenance and cleaning of vehicles.
The entire facility will be connected to the main airport building by a covered walkway, which will be on the west side of the ground-floor baggage claim area.
Once completed, the new facility will increase the number of spaces for rental vehicles from 800 to 1,800.
Kurt Klebe, vice president of the South Louisiana branch of Enterprise Holdings, which runs Enterprise, National and Alamo car rental services, said the new facility is unique because most major airports have to shuttle customers to off-site rental car lots.
"It will make it incredibly convenient for our customers to rent a car," Klebe said.
The $72 million project will be entirely financed by a $6.20 per day customer facility charges that was placed on rental car users over a year ago. The facility is expected to be completed late next summer, said Maggie Woodruff, deputy director of community and governmental affairs for the airport.
Other projects in the airport overhaul are at various stages, with some still in the planning and design phases and others nearing completion.
A handful of the projects were slated to start construction right before Hurricane Katrina, but were put on hold as focus turned to repairing damages from the storm. Katrina also significantly cut passenger traffic, which finances beautification projects through passenger facility charges and airport revenue, Woodruff said.
Now, as passenger traffic rebounds, the airport is able to resume the modernization projects, as well as air traffic safety projects, which can be partially financed by Federal Aviation Administration grants. Altogether, the projects carry a price tag of around $417 million.
Constrution continues on the Concourse D expansionlast monthat Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner. It is part of the airport's $400 million dollar capital improvement program. undefined undefined undefined undefined
One of the largest projects is the expansion of Concourse D, a project that will extend the walkway and add a rotunda with six new departure gates, as well as space for new eateries and retailers.
Although the construction will not be visible to travellers until the extension is connected to the existing concourse by the walkway, Delta and Continental airlines have lost several of their gates, shuffling some travellers to other concourses.
In addition, construction will soon begin to replace the main terminal's aluminum facade with a mostly-glass design. Inside, new ticket counters and baggage claim kiosks will be installed.
That work, plus the improvements to Concourse D, are scheduled to be completed late next summer. Because the renovations will be intrusive to the public, they will be done in phases, but Woodruff said travellers should still add a few extra minutes to their plans.
"It will be a wonderful outcome but there will be a little inconvenience," she said.
The airport is also replacing old flight-information monitors with new flat-panel screens. By the end of the year, new screens will be installed in all concourses, gates, and in the ticketing and baggage claim areas.
Restrooms are also being renovated, with some being completely rebuilt and others receiving minor improvements by spring 2011.
Other projects in the works may be less noticeable to travellers. A new, larger Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Station is being built west of the current facility, and the apron, the area on which planes park and land, is being replaced with new concrete near Concourse D. The first two phases of apron replacement have been completed, and the third is expected to be done by September. If funds come through, more of the apron will also be replaced.