NEW ORLEANS, LA-- Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined the New Orleans Aviation Board and regional elected, business and tourism leaders to announce plans to build a brand new, state-of-the-art airport terminal on the north side of current airport property. The announcement comes less than two years after the Mayor requested the Aviation Board to undertake an in-depth and robust analysis of four proposals for the future of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) from the airport’s master plan.
The current airport terminal is over 50 years old, and its infrastructure and set up have driven operational costs to high, unsustainable levels. The existing terminal also generates relatively low revenue from parking and concessions due to the set up. This high cost, low revenue model makes costs higher for airlines to operate, and therefore puts the airport at a competitive disadvantage for attracting new flights and business. The airport was recently renovated in advance of Super Bowl XLVII, but the behind-the-wall infrastructure is in need of an overhaul.
According the results of a comprehensive analysis of available options, the north alternative provides the best opportunities for revenue growth and sustainable operating costs, in addition to giving the Airport and region the best job and economic development potential.
“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,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Creating a new, modern airport is integral to our success as a world-class travel destination and hub for commerce. It makes economic sense and will create over 13,000 jobs in construction. Recently, significant progress has been made to improve the air service, facilities and customer experience at Armstrong International. But this option provides us the ability to build on these improvements and create the world-class airport that this city deserves.
Landrieu continued, “This project is about investing in our future. As the 300th anniversary of New Orleans approaches in 2018, my vision is to create a world-class, international airport that will continue the economic vitality of our region. We cannot afford to let another 30 years go by without a clear path forward. The north side option is financially feasible and delivers a strong return on investment for our region.”
In August 2011, Mayor Landrieu requested that the Aviation Board undertake an in-depth and robust analysis of the proposed north side plans looking at financial feasibility, environmental impact, design, and operational impacts, including potential uses for the existing terminal and surrounding infrastructure.
Shortly thereafter, the Aviation Board issued requests for proposals for design, program management, environmental, land use, and financial feasibility consultants. A team of airport consultants was selected using Mayor Landrieu’s reformed competitive selection procurement process. That team has evaluated four different alternatives- refurbishment of the existing terminal, expansion on the south side, a new terminal on the west side, and a new terminal on the north side. Each of these options would allow continued use of the current runways and would be located within the airport’s existing property footprint.
The north side terminal project will cost approximately $650 million with possible additions including 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 extensive community engagement, construction is expected to commence in 2014, with completion in 2018.
Funding for the new terminal project 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 project. Additionally, by law, airport funding cannot be used for non-airport improvements.
To streamline the remaining design and construction process, the City and Aviation Board are seeking approval from the state legislature to use the Construction Manager At Risk method (SB 65 by Senator Ed Murray).
“For decades, the Aviation Board has studied the possibility of building a world class airport. We are now moving into action. This plan will create jobs and economic development for our community and will make our airport more competitive. Perhaps most importantly, we will have an airport worthy of our city,” said Nolan Rollins, chairman of the New Orleans Aviation Board.
“This strategic planning effort was the result of a great team. Now, we will do everything possible to deliver an airport facility that mirrors the greatness of this city,” said Iftikhar Ahmad, Director of Aviation.
“I applaud the City of New Orleans and the New Orleans Aviation Board for their forward thinking to explore the best infrastructure development options to make the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport a world class facility for the traveling public," said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. "The FAA looks forward to working with the city as they improve the operational efficiency of the airport."
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is a critical asset for the city, the region and state. It currently carries approximately 80% of the state’s enplanements, provides over 12,450 direct and indirect jobs for our community, and facilitates over $2.6 billion in tourism spending. In 2012, MSY saw over 8.6 million passengers.
MSY got its start in 1959 as a new terminal and two new concourses were dedicated at Moisant Field, which was used as an air base during World War II. The official name of the airport was changed in 1960 from Moisant Field to New Orleans International Airport, but its three letter identifier remained MSY for Moisant Stock Yards. That original terminal is still in use today.
The first major expansion occurred in 1974 with the addition of two new concourses at the east end of the main terminal. This brought the total number of gates to 42. Several other expansions have occurred since that time. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans Aviation Board undertook an extensive master planning process, including a consideration of privatization. A decision to remain at the current physical site was made following the storm and privatization was ruled out in 2010. The north side option chosen by Mayor Landrieu and the Aviation Board today was part of the 2007 post-Katrina master plan.
In early 2013, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Airport and regional officials unveiled more than $300 million in improvements at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, part of an Airport Modernization Program that includes a new and bright interior with a refurbished ticket lobby, expanded concourse, improved baggage claim, remodeled restrooms, updated exterior, a new car rental facility and new retail and restaurant offerings. Those improvements will be utilized over the next five years, and then will be used in the repurposing of the existing terminal.
“One of the exciting things about choosing the north side alternative is that we have an economic development opportunity to convert the existing terminal into general aviation, cargo, multimodal and other commercial use,” said Ahmad.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is owned by the City of New Orleans and governed by the New Orleans Aviation Board. In the last 3 years, the Airport has:
Reformed contracting, credit card and take home car policies;
Increased revenue and passenger totals;
Upgraded its bond ratings;
Expanded air service including new airlines such as Spirit, Air Canada, and Frontier and new destinations including Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Francisco,Cancun, and Toronto;
Received approval to operate charter flights to Cuba;
Expanded its relationship with Southwest Airlines, which is increasing its flights by 35%; and
Expanded restaurant and retail hours of operation from 8am-5pm to 5am-8pm daily.
Aviation Board members, who have led this effort, noted that this announcement is long overdue.
“The airport that we have today has served us well, but it is not the airport of the future,” said Douglas Thornton, Vice Chairman of the Aviation Board. “The evaluation of various airport expansion or relocation options has been studied by many groups over the years, and it’s now time to address the long-term needs of the region. A new airport terminal will be more cost effective and operationally efficient, which we believe will lead to increased business. New Orleans deserves a world-class airport and it now seems that it is well within our reach.”
“The turnaround at this airport, by this director and mayor, should be a case study,” said Ti Martin, local restaurateur and Aviation Board member. “High goals were set and achieved. It was disciplined and methodical. We are not done yet. We want to give this city the airport it deserves in every way. Improved financial performance due to the efficiency of the new terminal will attract more airline capacity. We want this airport - New Orleans' front door - to truly make our whole city Proud To Call New Orleans Home.”
Board member Lea Polk Montgomery said, "This project will have a positive impact on our community and our state. It will create jobs and provide a greater experience for our customers."
Roger Ogden, businessman and Aviation Board member said, “Now is the time for New Orleans to seize the day and take action. We finally have the right leadership, the right professional team and the right demand in place to deliver a world class airport to serve our city, the state and the entire Gulf Coast region. We owe nothing less to the citizens of this community.”
Jim Hudson, who represents the City of Kenner on the Board said, "As a long-time resident of the City of Kenner and someone has been involved in economic development on the local, regional and state level, this project is a gamechanger for our entire community. This plan shows a great vision and courage-- it will allow us to finally have a great gateway to our region and will also open great new opportunities for Kenner and Jefferson Parish. The partnership between the Aviation Board, the City of New Orleans, the City of Kenner and Jefferson Parish is strong, and I look forward to continuing to work with this team to bring this project to fruition."
Regional civic, elected, and business leaders praised today’s announcement as a major step forward for the region.
NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL
District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, who serves as Chair of the New Orleans City Council’s Airport Committee said, “This ambitious plan will not only give us a new and improved airport, it will also be a tremendous economic driver - both short and long term. The rapid influx of temporary jobs, followed by the long-term impact of a modern, world-class airport will yield substantial benefits for New Orleans.”
Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head said, “The airport is New Orleans’ front door. It should be as welcoming and as hospitable as the people of this city. We have made a lot of progress, but more work needs to be done before we can call ours a world class airport. This new terminal is a tremendous opportunity for us to take one step closer to providing New Orleans with an airport that it deserves.”
City Council Vice-President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “This is phenomenal! This is the best thing to happen to our city since the opening of Moisant Airport. This puts us on an international footing that is long overdue!”
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “Our city has a world-wide reputation as a first class destination for visitors and our airport should reflect that reputation. The construction and operation of this new airport will bring thousands of new jobs to the New Orleans area while creating many other long-term economic opportunities for our city and region.”
District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, “Today’s announcement marks a new beginning in the history of what was once known as Moisant Field. Soon, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will feature a new terminal and concourses to welcome the millions of visitors who flock to our city each year. These improvements will be a boon to our economy and I stand ready to assist the administration and all stakeholders in making this exciting venture a reality.”
District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, “Today is another indication of the tremendous progress we have made at our airport. I am excited as this is an opportunity to create jobs in our community and improve our airport as a key part of our city and region's transportation system.”
District E Councilmember James A. Gray said: “New Orleans is a world class city, and it deserves a world class airport. Now we are getting one.”
REGIONAL ELECTED OFFICIALS
Jefferson Parish President John Young said, “Jefferson Parish recognizes the significant impact continued growth and improvement at Louis Armstrong International Airport has on the entire Greater New Orleans metropolitan region. We support this new development to provide our area with a world class airport and are confident it will further create economic opportunities while attracting and impressing visitors from all over the world.”
Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni said, “The mayor has briefed both me and the members of the City Council on the overhaul he has in mind for the airport. 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 our major corridors and intersections. I personally believe this bold plan will greatly benefit the Armstrong International, which can only help to also revitalize the city of Kenner.”
“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,” said V.J. St. Pierre, St. Charles Parish President. “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.”
“This is an important and exciting announcement for the New Orleans airport. St. Tammany’s 250,000 citizens use this airport on a daily basis,” said Pat Brister, St. Tammany Parish President. “While this airport has served us well for decades, it is time to bring it to the next level. We applaud the Mayor in his decision to take on this vitally important project.”
NEW ORLEANS METROPOLITAN LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION
State Senator Edwin Murray, who is authoring the CM At Risk bill said, “New Orleans very much deserves a world-class airport as it is a world-class City and destination. The economic development benefits derived from building a new terminal will go a long way in promoting the economic health of the New Orleans region and Louisiana.”
State Senator Jean-Paul Morrell said, “Representing both Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, I see the immense economic value in this important announcement. The new airport terminal will mean jobs and opportunity for the entire region.”
State Senator Danny Martiny, who represents Kenner, said: “This announcement for a new airport terminal is great news for Jefferson Parish and Kenner, the home of Armstrong International Airport, as well as the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. I look forward to continuing the superb cooperation between New Orleans and Jefferson Parish as the terminal develops.”
State Senator Conrad Appel said, "This announcement for a new terminal at Armstrong International Airport represents a huge step towards restoring New Orleans' title as The Gateway to the Americas."
State Representative Jeff Arnold said, “The announcement of this new terminal will mean a step towards a true sustainable and regional airport for New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.”
State Representative Wesley Bishop said, “The development of this new terminal for Armstrong International Airport will provide a vast new potential source for new economic opportunities in our area.”
State Representative Jared Brossett said, "Our airport is a valuable asset to the citizens of New Orleans and the metropolitan area. This option creates the most jobs for the community -13,500 in construction jobs alone."
House Speaker Charles Kleckley said, “Forward-thinking city and airport officials worldwide understand that investing in infrastructure lures more tourists, and taking action to introduce new terminals to improve passenger flow and efficiency benefits the region and the state. We need to continue with innovative ideas such as these that will attract more businesses and improve infrastructure for our citizens.”
REGIONAL CIVIC, BUSINESS AND TOURISM LEADERS
“The airport serves as the gateway to New Orleans for prospective businesses traveling to our region”, said Henry Coaxum, Chairman of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “It’s the first impression they get when they land here. This expansion will help us sell New Orleans better and truly reflect the transformation our city is undergoing as we become the city we want to be, the new New Orleans.”
“The economic impact of the airport’s improvements will increase access to our market, allowing for more carriers, tourists and business travelers to come to New Orleans”, said Rod Miller, President and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “This project will create over 13,000 construction jobs in the region. It is clear these investments will reap tremendous rewards for our city, region and state”
“We applaud Mayor Landrieu’s vision and leadership in making a world-class airport in New Orleans become a reality. From arrival to departure, the New Orleans experience will be greatly enhanced with a new terminal and will economically benefit both visitors and residents. As we approach the City’s 300th birthday with pride, we must continue to invest in our future, creating jobs and strengthening New Orleans as a favorite destination for both business and leisure travel,” said Suzanne Mestayer, Chairman, Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region.
"The development of a world class airport is critical for the region's economic development future," said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. "In order to truly capitalize on the region's economic potential, we must be able to attract international flights. As the Gateway to Greater New Orleans, this new airport will make our region more attractive not only for new airlines and routes, but also for companies conducting international business."
"Building a new, state of the art airport will be a home run for our city and our economy," said Ben Johnson, President and CEO of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce.
"Re-imagining and building a new and improved main terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will position New Orleans as a top tier port of entry for generations of future visitors to New Orleans," said Mark Romig, President and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "The visitor experience for more than half of our city's travelers begins and ends at the airport, and this new terminal will ensure that they receive the quality experience that they deserve and expect."
Stephen Perry, President and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau said, "The world-class airport will be a game-changer for New Orleans' status as a convention, leisure, special event and business destination, as well as our goal of reaching 13.7 million visitors by 2018. The economic model of the new facility will allow the airlines to bring in more daily flights and more seats, so that we can better compete with convention destinations with more 'airlift' such as Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas. The Convention and Visitors Bureau completely supports the Mayor and Aviation Board on this exciting endeavor."
Download an executive summary of the long term infrastructure development plan.
Download OIG letter regarding progress of Aviation Board management
Download new airport presentation