Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, also known by the airport code MSY, is owned by the city of New Orleans and provides domestic and international air service to the city and surrounding area. The airport code of MSY reflects the airports previous name of Moisant Field. John Moisant was an early barnstorming pilot who actually died in a crash at the airport.
Locals often refer to the airport by its shortened names of Louis Armstrong International Airport or New Orleans International Airport. The reference to the musician Louis Armstrong was added to the airport name in 2001.
History of the New Orleans Airport
The airport began commercial operations shortly after World War II when American air travel began to grow. The original facility made use of military buildings and airstrips from the war. An aggressive construction plan of terminals and other airport infrastructure in the late 1950s increased the airports capacity with additional construction, renovations, and upgrades occurring over the years since.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has faced weather problems in the past. Most recently, Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage to buildings and other facilities at the airport in 2005. The storm forced the airport to close to commercial use for about three weeks although runways were used for humanitarian flights during the shutdown. The airports official elevation is listed as 1 meter or about 3 feet above sea level making it susceptible to flooding during weather events. While the airport has offered incentives to carriers and passengers, the airports passenger counts still trail the pre-Katrina levels. In 2004, the airport saw about 10 million passengers and is currently accommodating about 8 million travelers. The airport has a stated capacity of about 12 million passengers per year.
From an operational standpoint, the airport has recovered admirably from Katrina. A 2008 rating by the magazine U.S. News & World Report ranked the airport in the top five of American airports based on passengers experience and low numbers of flight delays.
Two terminals, labeled East and West, provide passenger services. A ticketing area serves as a connection between the terminals allowing passengers to move between the terminals without leaving a building. The terminals are divided into Concourses B, C and D which provide the actual check-in and gate spaces. Concourse C is dedicated to handling international arrivals and includes U.S. Customs and other facilities. In all, the facility offers about 40 gates.
Aircraft utilize one of three runways at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The largest runway is about 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet and can accommodate aircraft the size of a Boeing 747. A secondary runway of about 2,100 meters or 7,000 feet serves smaller aircraft. Both of these runways are equipped with lights and instrument landing systems. The third runway is about 1,000 meters or 3,600 feet long and is limited to visual flight rules only. The airfield has a number of flight restrictions and warns pilots to be aware of bird hazards. In addition, the airport places noise restrictions on most aircraft routes to and from the airport.
Future plans for the airport are sketchy. Early discussions of creating a new airport at another location were abandoned in the 1970s. The current plans are aimed to restore air operations at the airport to early levels and utilize the capacity the airport currently offers.
Airlines Serving New Orleans
Nine different airlines service the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Louisiana. These airlines include Delta Airlines, Air Canada, AirTran Airlines, American Airlines, Jet Blue Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, and United Airlines. Each airline that serves the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport flies to a number of cities around the country and around the world. Each airline has its own location in the main terminal in one of four concourses, though concourse A is closed indefinitely.
AirTran Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and US Airways are all located in concourse B. Concourse C is home to airlines such as American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines and Jet Blue Airlines. Concourse D is where passengers to when they are departing on a Delta Airlines, United Airlines, or Air Canada Airlines flight. The terminal is divided into two sections, called the east terminal and the west terminal. Concourse B has a total of 13 gates for arriving and departing flights, concourse C has 15 gates for traffic, and concourse D has 12 gates.
More than 8.5 million passengers fly out of and into the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on an annual basis. The busiest destination for airlines and departing flights out of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is Atlanta. More than 600,000 passengers fly out of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport each year for Atlanta on both AirTran and Delta Airlines flights. The next most traveled to destination from New Orleans is Houston’s Houston Bush Airport, with more than 405,000 passengers on flights to Houston each year. These passengers travel on United Airlines flights. Southwest Airline’s most popular destination out of New Orleans’ International airport is the Houston-Hobby airport, with nearly 290,000 passengers annually. American Airlines’ busiest destination flight out of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is Dallast-Fort Worth. American Airlines carries 235,000 passengers here each year. Frontier Airlines delivers 206,000 passengers to Denver from New Orleans each year. Finally, US Airways handles nearly 195,000 thousand passengers on flights from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to the Charlotte airport on an annual basis.
No airlines use the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport as a hub for their flights. Despite its size, the New Orleans airport only handles flights for airlines; it does not house airlines or work on airlines at its facility at any time.