Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

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Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
Aéroport international Louis Armstrong de La Nouvelle-Orléans
Moisant Field
Louis Armstrong Airport logo.png
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport - Louisiana.jpg
WMO: 72231
Airport type Public
Owner City of New Orleans
Operator New Orleans Aviation Board
Serves New Orleans, Louisiana
Location Kenner, Louisiana
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 4 ft / 1 m
Coordinates 29°59′36″N 090°15′29″W / 29.99333°N 90.25806°W / 29.99333; -90.25806Coordinates: 29°59′36″N 090°15′29″W / 29.99333°N 90.25806°W / 29.99333; -90.25806
Website flymsy.com
KMSY is located in Louisiana
Location of airport in Louisiana
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 10,104 3,080 Asphalt/Concrete
2/20 7,001 2,134 Concrete
Statistics (2015)
Aircraft operations 127,753
Based aircraft 21
Passenger movement 10,673,301
Source: MSY[1] and FAA[2]

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (IATA: MSYICAO: KMSYFAA LID: MSY) (French: Aéroport international Louis Armstrong de La Nouvelle-Orléans) is an international airport in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States. It is owned by the city of New Orleans and is 11 miles west of downtown New Orleans.[3] The airport's address is 900 Airline Drive in Kenner, Louisiana. A small portion of Runway 11/29 is in unincorporated St. Charles Parish. Armstrong International is the primary commercial airport for the New Orleans metropolitan area and southeast Louisiana. The airport was formerly known as Moisant Field, and it is also known as Louis Armstrong International Airport and New Orleans International Airport.

Despite its status as an international airport, the majority of commercial flights offered are to domestic destinations within the United States. During the 1960s through the 1990s and prior to Hurricane Katrina, numerous international flights were available. The current international scheduled passenger service destinations are Toronto, Canada; Panama City, Panama; Cancun, Mexico; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (with the latter destination only being offered seasonally). The airport is aggressively working to restore more international destinations.

At an average of 4.5 feet (1.4 m) above sea level, MSY is the 2nd lowest-lying international airport in the world, behind only Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport in the Netherlands, which is eleven feet below sea level. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, MSY served 9.7 million passengers per year, nearly all of them non-connecting. In 2015 it served 10,673,301 passengers, 9.1% more than 2014.[4]

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was once a major gateway for Latin American and Caribbean travel to and from the United States. That travel now mostly goes through other hubs operated by major legacy airlines such as the American Airlines hubs in Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA), the Delta Air Lines hub in Atlanta (ATL), and the United Airlines hub in Houston (IAH).

MSY opened after World War II, replacing the older New Orleans Lakefront Airport (which kept the NEW and KNEW airport codes and now serves general aviation) as the city's main airport. MSY was renamed in 2001 after Louis Armstrong, a famous jazz musician from New Orleans. The National Weather Service forecast office for the area was once located at MSY, but has moved to the suburb of Slidell, and now uses the non-airport codes LIX and KLIX.

In January 2016, the airport will begin replacement of the current terminal by starting construction on a new terminal located on the north side of the airfield. The terminal is slated to have 30 gates (the current terminal rents out 22), which can be expanded to 42 gates in the future.

Airport Development History[edit]

The airport in the 1960s

Plans for a new airport began in 1940, as evidence mounted that the older Shushan Airport (New Orleans Lakefront Airport) was too small.

The airport was originally named Moisant Field after daredevil aviator John Moisant, who died in 1910 in an airplane crash on agricultural land where the airport is now located. Its IATA code MSY was derived from Moisant Stock Yards, as Lakefront Airport retained the "NEW" code.[5] In World War II the land became a government air base. It returned to civil control after the war and commercial service began at Moisant Field in May 1946.

On September 19, 1947 the airport was shut down as it was submerged under two feet of water in the wake of the 1947 Hurricane's impact.

When commercial service began at Moisant Field in 1946, the terminal was a large, makeshift hangar-like building—a sharp contrast to airports in then-peer cities. A new terminal complex, designed by Goldstein Parham & Labouisse and Herbert A. Benson, George J. Riehl and built by J. A. Jones Company, debuted in 1959 towards the end of Mayor DeLesseps "Chep" Morrison's administration. The core of this structure forms much of the present-day facility.[6] Retired United States Air Force Major-General Junius Wallace Jones served as airport director in the 1950s. During his term, the airport received many improvements.

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide (OAG) showed 74 weekday departures: Delta Air Lines 26, Eastern Air Lines 25, National Airlines 11, Capital Airlines 5, Southern Airways 4, and Braniff International Airways 3. Pan American World Airways had six departures each week while TACA, a Central American airline, had four.

By the time the 1959 airport terminal building opened, the name Moisant International Airport was being used for the New Orleans facility. At some point in the next few decades, the name was changed to New Orleans International Airport. In July 2001, to honor the 100th anniversary of Louis Armstrong's birth (August 4, 1901), the airport's name became Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.[7]

During the administration of Morrison's successor, Vic Schiro, the government sponsored studies of the feasibility of relocating New Orleans International Airport to a new site, contemporaneous with similar efforts that were ultimately successful in Houston (George Bush Intercontinental Airport) and Dallas (Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport). This attempt got as far as recommending a site in New Orleans East; a man-made island was to be created south of I-10 and north of U.S. Route 90 in a bay of Lake Pontchartrain. In the early 1970s it was decided that the current airport should be expanded instead, leading to the construction of a lengthened main terminal ticketing area, an airport access road linking the terminal to I-10, and the present-day Concourses A and B. New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, in office from 1986 to 1994, later reintroduced the idea of building a new international airport for the city, with consideration given to other sites in New Orleans East, as well as on the Northshore in suburban St. Tammany Parish. Only a couple months before Hurricane Katrina's landfall, Mayor Ray Nagin again proposed a new airport for New Orleans, this time to the west in Montz, Louisiana. These initiatives met with the same fate as 1960s-era efforts concerning construction of a new airport for New Orleans.

Airport Director[edit]

Iftikhar Ahmad is the current director of aviation. Ahmad was approved for employment at MSY in April 2010. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering. Ahmad left his director of aviation post at Dayton International Airport where he had been since 2006 to work for MSY. Prior to Dayton, Ahmad had worked in airport management for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority and the Houston Airport System, which oversees both Houston Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby airports.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On November 16, 1959 National Airlines Flight 967, a Douglas DC-7 flying from Tampa to New Orleans crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.[8]
  • Eastern Air Lines Flight 304 operated with a Douglas DC-8 flying from New Orleans International Airport to Washington Dulles International Airport crashed on February 25, 1964 nine minutes after takeoff. All 51 passengers and 7 crew members were killed.
  • On March 20, 1969, Douglas DC-3 N142D, leased from Avion Airways for a private charter, crashed on landing, killing 16 of the 27 passengers and crew members on board. The aircraft was operating a domestic non-scheduled passenger flight from Memphis International Airport, Tennessee.[9]
  • On July 9, 1982, Pan Am Flight 759, en route from Miami to Las Vegas, departed New Orleans International. The Boeing 727-200 jetliner took off from the east–west runway (Runway 10/28) traveling east but never gained an altitude higher than 150 feet (46 m). The aircraft traveled 4,610 feet (1405 m) beyond the end of Runway 10, hitting trees along the way, until crashing into a residential neighborhood. A total of 153 people were killed (all 145 on board and 8 on the ground). The crash was, at the time, the second-deadliest civil aviation disaster in U.S. history. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause was the aircraft's encounter with a microburst-induced wind shear during the liftoff. This atmospheric condition created a downdraft and decreasing headwind forcing the plane downward. Modern wind shear detection equipment protecting flights from such conditions is now in place both onboard planes and at most commercial airports, including Armstrong International.
  • TACA Flight 110 forced to land on a levee east of New Orleans International Airport after flame-out in both engines; no casualties.
  • On March 21, 2015, a man walked into the airport armed with a machete and Molotov cocktails and began attacking TSA agents. He was subsequently shot and killed by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Deputy.

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

The airport was closed to commercial air traffic on August 28, 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, and it remained closed as floods affected the city. The Associated Press reported on August 31 that MSY would receive humanitarian flights, and that the airport "has no significant airfield damage and had no standing water in aircraft movement areas", although the airport did, as the article put it, "[sustain] damage to its roofs, hangars and fencing."[10] In early September, the airport opened only to military aircraft and humanitarian flights, and served as a staging center for evacuees. The airport reopened to commercial flights on September 13, 2005.[11]

February 2006 tornado[edit]

At about 2:30 EST in the morning on February 2, 2006, a tornado touched down on the grounds of MSY. The damage from the tornado was significant but primarily confined to Concourse C, where American, United, AirTran Airways, and international arrivals were based. Many temporary repairs dating from Hurricane Katrina failed, including one roof patch, forcing airlines based in the concourse to relocate operations to vacant gates. Jetways and other ground equipment also sustained damage. The damage was confirmed by the National Weather Service as being caused by a tornado rated F1. As of late 2006, all of this had been repaired.

Post-Hurricane Katrina capacity restoration[edit]

MSY reopened to commercial flights on September 13, 2005, with four flights operated by Delta Air Lines to Atlanta and a Northwest Airlines flight to Memphis. Slowly, service from other carriers began to resume, with limited service offered by Southwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, and American Airlines.

Armstrong Airport, June 2007

Eventually, all carriers announced their return to MSY, with the exception of America West Airlines (which merged into US Airways two weeks later) and international carrier TACA. In early 2006, Continental Airlines (since merged into United Airlines) became the first airline to return to pre-Katrina flight frequency levels, and in September 2006, to pre-Katrina seat capacity levels.

All international service into MSY was suspended while the FIS facility was closed post-Katrina. The facility reopened to chartered flights arriving from London, Manchester, Bournemouth, and Nottingham, UK—all carrying tourists in for Mardi Gras and set to depart aboard a cruise liner.

In May 2010, AirTran announced new daily nonstop service to its hub in Milwaukee utilizing Boeing 717 twin jet aircraft, which then commenced on October 7, 2010.[12] This route marked MSY's first all-new city addition since 1998. AirTran was acquired by Southwest Airlines, which in turn began operating the route.

In November 2010, United Airlines announced resumption of daily nonstop service to San Francisco, the largest pre-Katrina domestic market that had yet to resume service to New Orleans.

On July 16, 2012, Spirit Airlines announced nonstop service from Dallas-Fort Worth to New Orleans, commencing in January 2013. Spirit became the first all-new domestic carrier, and second all-new carrier overall (after WestJet) to announce service to MSY, since 1998.

MSY served 9,785,394 passengers in 2014 exceeding the pre-Katrina total of 9,733,179 passengers in 2004, and also approaching the high of 9.9 million passengers who used the airfield in 2000.

Incentives to airlines[edit]

On November 21, 2006, the New Orleans Aviation Board approved an air service initiative to promote increased service to Armstrong International:

  • Airlines qualify for a $0.75 credit per seat toward terminal use charges for scheduled departing seats exceeding 85% of pre-Katrina capacity levels for a twelve-month period.
  • Airlines qualify for a waiver of landing fees for twelve months following the initiation of service to an airport not presently served from New Orleans.

On January 17, 2008, the city's aviation board voted on an amended incentive program that waives landing fees for the first two airlines to fly nonstop into a city not presently served from the airport. Under the new ruling, landing fees will be waived for up to two airlines flying into an "underserved destination airport." The incentive previously referred to service to a "new destination airport."

The airport is also continuing its incentive to airlines that reach 85% of their pre-Katrina flight frequencies.

West Terminal, completed in 1996

Historical airline service[edit]

Eastern Air Lines began service into New Orleans as early as 1935 with Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s to Atlanta, Washington D.C. and New York via intermediate stops.[13] By 1946 Eastern had extended its service west to Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Brownsville in Texas.[14] In the late 1950s Eastern was serving MSY with Lockheed L-1049 Constellations.[15] In 1960 Eastern Douglas DC-8 jets were flying from New Orleans nonstop to New York City while their Douglas DC-7s were flying nonstop from MSY to Mexico City.[16] Other Eastern flights were operated with Boeing 720 jets and Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprops.[16] Eastern Boeing 727-100 and Douglas DC-9-10 "Whisperjets" were then introduced with flights to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York City, Tampa and other cities. In 1976 Eastern was operating nonstop jet service to Atlanta, Boston, Corpus Christi, Houston, Mexico City, Miami, New York City (JFK Airport and LaGuardia Airport), Philadelphia, San Antonio and Washington, D.C. (Dulles Airport) mainly with Boeing 727s.[17] In 1983 Eastern was flying nonstop Boeing 727-200 service to Panama City, Panama.[18] In early 1991 Eastern ceased operations.

Capital Airlines was one of the first airlines to operate jets into New Orleans with the Boeing 720. The cover of the Capital Airlines June 1, 1961 system timetable proclaimed, "New Boeing 720 Jets New York – Atlanta – New Orleans: 2 Round Trips Daily ".[19] The airline began serving New Orleans in the late 1940s with Douglas DC-4s.[20] Capital was the first U.S. airline to operate the Vickers Viscount turboprop into MSY with flights to Atlanta, Birmingham, Raleigh/Durham, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York City[21] Capital merged into United Airlines in 1961. United continued to serve New Orleans and expanded its service when it merged with Continental Airlines in 2010. United was the only U.S. airline to operate the Sud Aviation Caravelle jetliner into New Orleans. In 1963 United was flying daily Caravelle jet service from MSY nonstop to Atlanta and on to Washington Dulles Airport and Philadelphia.[22]

National Airlines was flying into New Orleans by 1938.[23] The airline operated Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar, Douglas DC-6 and Douglas DC-7 aircraft followed by Lockheed L-188 Electras, Boeing 727-100s and 727-200s as well as Douglas DC-8s (including the stretched Super DC-8-61) and widebody McDonnell Douglas DC-10s. National operated nonstop or direct flights to Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Jacksonville, Mobile, Pensacola and other cities. For a few months in 1978 National scheduled nonstop DC-10s between MSY and Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 1979 the airline operated direct flights three days a week from New Orleans to Frankfurt, Germany.[24] In 1976 the air carrier was operating a "milk run" multi-stop flight: National 493, operated with a Boeing 727-200, flew a circuitous routing of New York City (JFK) – Washington D.C. (DCA) – Norfolk – Charleston – Jacksonville – Tallahassee – Panama City, FL – Pensacola – Mobile – New Orleans – Houston (IAH). The flight departed JFK at 9:10am and was scheduled to arrive MSY at 5:51pm.[25] In 1980 National merged into Pan Am, which continued to fly many of National's routes from MSY. Pan Am ceased operations in 1991.

In 1969 Braniff International Airways was operating direct, no change of plane Boeing 707-320C jet service twice a week to Hawaii (Honolulu and Hilo) via a stop at Dallas Love Field.[26] Braniff was the first airline to fly British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven twin jets to New Orleans.[27] In 1968 Braniff BAC One-Elevens flew nonstop MSY to Kansas City and Shreveport and direct to Chicago, Des Moines, Fort Smith, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha and Tulsa.[28] The airline would later operate Boeing 727-200s on these routes. By 1974 Braniff had daily nonstops to its hub at Dallas/Ft. Worth and also to Miami. Also in 1974, Braniff started weekly nonstop Boeing 727s from MSY to Panama City, Panama.[29] In April 1982 Braniff flew twice a week nonstop to Panama City and one-stop four times a week to Caracas, Venezuela and once a week to Bogota, Colombia.[30] In May 1982 the airline ceased operations. Braniff began serving New Orleans in 1953 with Douglas DC-3s and Convair 340s with two nonstop flights a day to Shreveport.[31]

Southern Airways began serving New Orleans with Douglas DC-3s in the early 1950s.[32] In July 1978, New Orleans was a "focus city" for Southern with the airline flying Douglas DC-9-10 and/or McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets nonstop to Baton Rouge, LA; Fort Walton Beach, FL (served via Eglin Air Force Base); Gulfport, MS; Huntsville, AL; Mobile, AL; Monroe, LA and Nashville, TN.[33] Southern DC-9s also flew direct at this time to Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Chicago, IL (O'Hare Airport); Columbus, GA; Detroit, MI; Dothan, AL; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Greenville, MS; Greenville/Spartanburg, SC; Jackson, MS; Laurel/Hattiesburg, MS; Meridian, MS; Milwaukee, WI; New York City (LaGuardia Airport); Orlando, FL; and Washington D.C. (Dulles Airport).[34] Southern merged with North Central Airlines in 1979 to form Republic Airlines, which continued to serve New Orlean before being merged into Northwest Airlines. Northwest continued to serve MSY before merging with Delta Air Lines in 2010.

Another local service airline at New Orleans was Texas International (formerly Trans-Texas Airways, TTa) flying Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets as well as Convair 600 turboprops primarily to smaller cities in Louisiana and also to destinations in Texas.[17] Texas International was merged into Continental Airlines in 1982. Continental jets flew nonstop from MSY to Chicago (Midway Airport), Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (and during the 1990s Houston Hobby Airport as well), Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Miami, New York Newark Airport, Orlando, Pensacola, San Antonio, Tampa and Washington D.C. Reagan National Airport.[35] Continental also flew from New Orleans to Mexico and Venezuela during the 1980s. In October 1994, Continental operated hourly nonstops to its Houston hub (IAH) with flights also departing every 30 minutes during peak periods for a total of 20 jet flights to IAH every weekday.[36] Jets flown by Continental from the airport included the Boeing 727-100, 727-200, 737-300, 737-500, 757-200 and 757-300, McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 and MD-80 as well as the wide body Airbus A300 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Continental merged with United Airlines in 2010.

British Airways operated nonstop service to London and Mexico City in the early 1980s with the Lockheed L-1011-500 TriStar, which was the long range version of the widebody trijet.

Japan Airlines (JAL) used New Orleans as a stop for "special schedule" Douglas DC-8 service between Tokyo, Japan and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the mid 1960s and early 1970s. The route also had intermediate stops in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Caracas and Belem.[37][38]

Hub operations at New Orleans[edit]

MSY was the hub for short-lived Pride Air, a start-up domestic airline that flew Boeing 727-100s and 727-200s for three months in 1985. Pride Air flew nonstop to Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco and Tampa with direct one-stop flights being operated to Jacksonville, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose, Sarasota and West Palm Beach.[39] Pride Air soon went out of business.

In 1984 the airport served as a small domestic hub for Northeastern International Airlines, which operated Boeing 727-100s, 727-200s, and Douglas DC-8s as well as wide body Airbus A300s. Northeastern International flew nonstop from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City, Orlando and St. Petersburg, and direct to Boston, Hartford/Springfield, New York City (JFK), San Diego, Tulsa and West Palm Beach.[40] This airline was liquidated in 1986.

Muse Air and its successor TranStar Airlines created a "focus city" operation at MSY during the mid-1980s with nonstop McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and DC-9-50 jet service to Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby Airport, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio and Tampa with direct, no change of plane service to Austin, San Diego, San Francisco and other cities.[41] Muse Air was acquired by Southwest Airlines, which then changed the Muse Air name to TranStar. However, in 1987 the TranStar operation was shut down although Southwest continues to operate a large number of flights at the present time into New Orleans and has served MSY since 1979. On January 25, 1979 New Orleans became the first destination served by Southwest outside of the state of Texas.[42]

Large and wide body jet service[edit]

A number of airlines scheduled large passenger jets into New Orleans in the past. The following has been compiled from the Official Airline Guide (OAG) from 1974 to 1999.[43]

Delta Air Lines service[edit]

For years, Delta Air Lines carried more passengers into and out of New Orleans than any other airline. The airline began serving the airport in 1948 with Douglas DC-3s and DC-4s. One Delta route in 1948 was "The Meteor", flown with a Douglas DC-4 on a daily round trip routing of New Orleans-Birmingham-Atlanta-Knoxville-Cincinnati-Chicago.[44] Delta DC-4s also flew nonstop to Dallas and on to Ft. Worth.[44] Other flights to Atlanta and Dallas were operated with DC-3s with a number of intermediate stops being made en route. By October 1960 Delta Convair 880 jetliners were flying nonstop to Atlanta, New York City, Baltimore, Memphis and Houston and one-stop to Chicago and Philadelphia.[45] Delta also began flying one of its first international jet routes with the Convair 880 via MSY and in 1962 was operating a routing of San Francisco - Dallas Love Field - New Orleans - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Caracas, Venezuela with the CV-880.[46] In later years, Delta's nonstops to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles were advertised for decades on a prominent billboard on Canal Street with the slogan "Fly Delta's Big Jets". In March 1973, Delta was operating direct, no change of plane Douglas DC-8 jet service from New Orleans to London, England (LHR) with stops in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. via a through plane interchange agreement with Pan Am. .[47] Also in the spring 1973 Delta jets flew nonstop from New Orleans to Atlanta, Baltimore (BWI), Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Chicago (ORD), Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston (IAH), Jackson, MS, Los Angeles (LAX), Memphis, Montgomery, AL, Nashville, Newark, New York City (LGA), Philadelphia, St. Louis and Shreveport.[48] Delta was also flying Douglas DC-8s nonstop to Maracaibo, Venezuela (MAR) and on to Caracas, nonstop to Montego Bay, Jamaica and nonstop to San Juan, Puerto Rico.[48] Jets operated by Delta into New Orleans over the years included the Convair 880, Douglas DC-8 (including the stretched Super DC-8-61), Boeing 727-200 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 as well as wide body Boeing 767-200 and 767-300, McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar jetliners. Western Airlines, which was acquired by and merged into Delta in 1987, served MSY during the mid 1980s with nonstop Boeing 727-200 flights to Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver as well as nonstop and direct flights to its hub in Salt Lake City.[49][50] New Orleans was a "focus city" for Delta for many years and the airline continues to serve MSY.

Past International service[edit]

Over the years, New Orleans has had nonstop flights to nearly thirty destinations, primarily in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Canada and also nonstop and direct to Europe.

By the end of 1946 Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) was operating Douglas DC-4 propliners from MSY to Mérida, Mexico. By 1973 Pan Am Boeing 707 jetliners were flying from New Orleans nonstop to Mérida four days a week and nonstop to Guatemala City three days a week.[51] Also in 1973, Pan Am and Delta Air Lines were jointly operating scheduled Douglas DC-8 no change of plane jet service between New Orleans and London, England Heathrow Airport via an interchange agreement with en route stops in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Dulles Airport.[47]

In 1950, Chicago and Southern Air Lines (C&S), which was acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines in 1953 was operating Douglas DC-4 propliners on a daily round trip routing of Chicago Midway Airport - St. Louis - Memphis - New Orleans - Havana, Cuba - Kingston, Jamaica - Caracas, Venezuela with this service being called the "Caribbean Comet" by the airline.[52] Chicago and Southern also operated additional domestic flights from MSY at this time with direct service to Kansas City, Little Rock, Springfield, MO, Jackson, MS and Greenwood, MS.[52] The acquisition of C&S and its services to the Caribbean and Venezuela from New Orleans provided Delta with its first international routes.[53] In 1954, Delta was operating Lockheed Constellation service on a routing of Chicago - New Orleans - Havana - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Caracas, Venezuela and was also at this same time flying "Super" Convair 340 propliners on a routing of Houston Hobby Airport - New Orleans -Havana - Port au Prince, Haiti - Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (known then as Ciudad Trujillo) - San Juan, Puerto Rico.[54] The airline was operating as "Delta C&S Air Lines" at this time following its merger with Chicago and Southern (C&S).[54] The airline would later fly Douglas DC-7 aircraft on its Caribbean and Venezuela services. Delta also operated Convair 880 and Douglas DC-8 (including stretched Super DC-8-61) jetliners on its flights from MSY to Montego Bay, Jamaica as well as to Caracas and Maracaibo in Venezuela and also to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Delta discontinued all international service from MSY between the mid-1970s and 1980[55] but then began operating new nonstop service to Cancun, Mexico once a week on Saturdays effective on March 7. 2015.[56]

The airport also had other nonstop and direct flights to Europe. In 1982 British Airways was operating Lockheed L-1011 TriStar series 500 long range widebody jetliners on an intercontinental route between London Gatwick Airport and Mexico City with a stop in New Orleans. National Airlines flew a weekly McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 widebody service nonstop to Amsterdam from MSY in 1978.[57] In 1979, National was operating direct, no change of plane service to Frankfurt three days a week via a stop in Miami.[58]

Eastern Air Lines flew nonstop from MSY to Mexico City with Douglas DC-7 propliners in 1960,[16] Douglas DC-8 jetliners in 1967,[59] and Boeing 727-100 jets in 1976.[17] In 1979 the airline was operating daily nonstop Boeing 727-100 jet service to Cancun, Mexico[60] and in 1982 was flying nonstop to Merida, Mexico four days a week as well.[61] In 1983 Eastern was operating nonstop Boeing 727-200 service to Panama City, Panama twice a week.[18] This flight connected in Panama City to other Eastern flights that served South America.

In 1974 Braniff International Airlines was flying nonstop jet service once a week to Panama City, Panama.[62] In 1982 Braniff flew nonstop twice a week to Panama City, Panama with one-stop, direct service to Caracas, Venezuela four times a week and also to Bogota, Colombia once a week.[63] These Boeing 727-200 flights connected to other Braniff flights in Panama City for service to South America.

In 1983 Continental Airlines was operating nonstop Boeing 727-200 jetliners once a week to Maracaibo, Venezuela.[64] In 1987 Continental was flying daily nonstops to Mexico City and Cancun, Mexico with Boeing 737-300 jets.[65]

Also in 1983, Western Airlines was operating daily direct Boeing 727-200 service to Calgary, Alberta in Canada via intermediate stops in Dallas/Fort Worth, Salt Lake City and Great Falls, MT.[66]

Aeromexico was flying McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets nonstop to Mexico City and Cancun on a daily basis in 1991.[67] On April 7, 2009, it was announced that Aeromexico would begin nonstop flights six days a week between New Orleans and Mexico City commencing on July 6, 2009 with this service actually being operated by Aerolitoral dba AeroMexico Connect.[68] AeroMexico made several changes to its US network in the spring of 2010, and MSY-MEX service was reduced to an intermittent 2–3 times weekly frequency in March of that year.[69][70] However, Aeromexico then removed the route from their reservation system in June 2010, and the last flight operated on July 26, 2010.[71] Another Mexican air carrier, Aerocancun, operated charter service between New Orleans and Cancun during the early 1990s.

Trans World Airlines (TWA) McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jetliners were operating nonstop to Mexico City from the 1990s into the early 2000s.

During the late 1960s VIASA Convair 880 jetliners flew nonstop twice a week to Maracaibo, Venezuela with continuing service to Caracas.[72]

During the 1960s through the early 2000s, Central American air carriers Aviateca, LACSA, TAN-SAHSA and TACA flew nonstop to Central America: Belize City, Guatemala City, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, Roatan, Mérida, and Cancun. At one point TACA was actually headquartered in New Orleans before returning its headquarters to Central America in 1982. The networks of these former Central American air carriers were over time absorbed into that of Grupo TACA, which in turn merged with Colombian airline Avianca in 2013. These Central American airlines flew a variety of aircraft types into New Orleans, including Airbus A319s, Airbus A320s, Boeing 727-100s, 727-200s, 737-200s and 737-300s as well as British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven jets. Earlier services were flown via Douglas DC-6 prop and Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft.

Japan Airlines (JAL) served the airport as part of a "special schedule" service linking Japan and South America in the mid 1960s and early 1970s with a routing of Tokyo-Honolulu-Los Angeles-New Orleans-Caracas-Belem-Rio de Janeiro flown with Douglas DC-8 jetliners.

Twice weekly seasonal New Orleans-to-Montego Bay nonstops via the Jamaica Shuttle/Casino Express (typically chartered Boeing 727-200 or 737-300 jets) operated for a decade during most of the 1990s and into the 2000s.

Laker Airways flew twice weekly seasonal Boeing 727-200 jet service nonstop between New Orleans and Freeport, Bahamas in the early 2000s.

Current International services[edit]

Armstrong International's Concourse C, located in the airport's West Terminal, contains a fully enclosed US Customs, Immigration, and FIS facility. The majority of the concourse's 15 gates offer direct access to this area and are thus capable of accepting foreign arrivals from all over the world, on aircraft as large as Boeing 747-400 intercontinental jetliners.

Currently, Air Canada, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines operate scheduled international passenger service from the airport with Air Canada flying to Toronto, Canada and Delta Air Lines and United Airlines flying to Cancun, Mexico. Copa Airlines began flying nonstop to Panama City, Panama on June 25, 2015.

On July 14, 2010, Air Canada announced the resumption of daily nonstop service between Toronto and New Orleans, utilizing Bombardier CRJ705 regional jet aircraft (which is a version of the Canadair CRJ-900) operated by Air Canada Express featuring two classes of service. Service on this route began on October 30, 2010.[73]

On March 7, 2015, Delta Air Lines initiated new nonstop service once a week every Saturday to Cancun, Mexico with these flights being operated with Airbus A319 aircraft.[56]

United Airlines initiated new weekly nonstop service to Cancun, Mexico every Saturday effective May 9, 2015 with these flights being operated with Boeing 737-900 aircraft.[74]

Copa Airlines initiated new nonstop Boeing 737-700 service between New Orleans and Panama City, Panama on June 25, 2015 with these flights being operated four times a week.[75] The inbound flight, CMP 498, departs Panama at 5:30 PM and arrives into New Orleans at 9:15 PM on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The outbound flight, CMP 499, departs New Orleans at 6:01 AM and arrives into Panama at 10:25 AM on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Panama City is a hub for Copa with a number of connecting flights to destinations in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean being available.

Vacation Express currently offers Boeing 737 charter flight service operated by Swift Air and AeroMexico to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Cancun, Mexico on a seasonal basis.

Branson Air Express operated by Orange Air initiated scheduled charter flight service to Cancun, Mexico on May 6, 2015 with McDonnell Douglas MD-83 jetliners. This service was an extension of a route from Branson, MO and Cincinnati, OH. On October 2, 2015, it was announced that Elite Airways would take over the Branson - New Orleans - Cancun service until the end of November, 2015. The service has since been discontinued.

On March 8, 2011, MSY was one of eight cities given approval for charter flights to Cuba. The first charter flight to Havana, Cuba occurred on March 14, 2015 for the Cuba Hoy Conference.[76]

Terminals and concourses[edit]

The inside of MSY's Concourse C

Louis Armstrong International has two terminals, East and West, connected by a central ticketing alley. Attached are four concourses, A, B, C, and D. The vaulted arrivals lounge at the head of Concourse C and the adjacent, western half of the ticketing alley are the remaining portions of the airport's 1959 terminal complex.

Concourse A[edit]

Concourse A opened in 1974 and has 6 Gates: A1, A3, A5, A6, A7, A8. Most recently home to now-defunct Northwest Airlines and US Airways, this concourse is closed until further notice.

Concourse B[edit]

Concourse B opened in 1974 and has 11 Gates: B1, B2, B4, B5, B7-B12, B15. Southwest Airlines (Gates B2, B4, B5, B7, B8, B9) and GLO Airlines (Gate B15) operate out of this concourse. Gate B1 space has been taken over by TSA for passenger screening, and the gate is no longer in use. Gates B10, B11, and B12 are currently vacant.

Concourse C[edit]

Except customs pre-cleared flights, all nonstop international arrivals are handled by Concourse C. This concourse also contains both common-use and overflow gates, available for infrequent services and charter flights as well.

Concourse C opened on March 18, 1992[77] and was remodeled in 2007, according to a design by Manning Architects, after being damaged in a tornado the previous February.[78]

Concourse C has 15 Gates: C1 – C12, C14 – C16. Allegiant Air (Gate C3), Copa Airlines (Gate C1), JetBlue Airways (Gate C5), Alaska Airlines (Gate C4), Delta Air Lines (Gate C3 for Seasonal International Arrival/Departure), Spirit Airlines (Gate C6), Frontier Airlines (Gate C7), American Airlines (Gates C8 - C12, C15 and C16), Vacation Express (Gates C1 and C3 for Seasonal International Arrival/Departure), and United Airlines (Gate C2 for Seasonal International Arrival/Departure) all operate out of this concourse.

Concourse D[edit]

The newest concourse, D, opened on December 23, 1996 and houses a Delta Air Lines Sky Club in between gates D2 and D4, the sole such airline club remaining at Armstrong.[79] Originally completed with only six gates, Concourse D received a six-gate rotunda addition, designed by Sizeler Thompson Brown,[80] and inaugurated in 2011. This rotunda includes gates D7-12[81]

Concourse D has 12 operating Gates: D1 – D12. Delta Air Lines (Gates D2, D4, D6, D8, D10, D12), United Airlines (Gates D1, D3, D5, D7, D9, D11), and Air Canada Express (Gate D7) operate from Concourse D.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Concourse
Air Canada Express Toronto-Pearson D
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma C
Allegiant Air Cincinnati, Jacksonville (begins April 14, 2016),[82] Orlando-Sanford, Pittsburgh (begins February 19, 2016),[83] St. Petersburg/Clearwater (begins June 3, 2016)[82]
Seasonal: Columbus-Rickenbacker, Indianapolis
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles (begins June 2, 2016), Miami, Philadelphia, Washington-National C
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Miami, Philadelphia, Washington-National C
Branson Air Express
operated by Buzz Airways
Branson (begins May 27, 2016) C
Copa Airlines Panama City C
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia
Seasonal: Cancún, Salt Lake City
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Salt Lake City C/D
Frontier Airlines Denver, Orlando (begins April 15, 2016),[84] Philadelphia (begins April 14, 2016)[84] C
GLO Airlines
operated by CFM
Little Rock, Memphis, Shreveport C
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York-JFK C
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington-National B
Spirit Airlines Atlanta (begins April 14, 2016),[85][86] Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston-Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (begins April 14, 2016)[87] C
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles
Seasonal: Cancún
United Express Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles C/D


Airlines Destinations Concourse
Vacation Express
operated by Aeroméxico
Seasonal: Cancún C
Vacation Express
operated by Swift Air
Seasonal: Punta Cana C

Ground transportation[edit]


Bus service between the airport and downtown New Orleans is provided by Jefferson Transit bus E-2.[88]


The airport also features taxicab services furnished by third-party operators that have fixed price schedules ($36 for first two passengers, $14 for each additional passenger) for rides to the city's Central Business District. All cabs serving the airport are required to accept credit cards for all services rendered.

Hotel shuttle[edit]

Airport Shuttle has services to most hotels and hostels in the Central Business District of New Orleans for $20 per person (one-way) and $38 per person (round-trip).[89]

New Airport Terminal[edit]

The New Orleans Aviation Board, along with the Mayor of New Orleans and City Council, recently approved a plan to build a brand new $807 million terminal building on the north side of the airport property. Hunt-Gibbs-Boh-Metro is listed as the contractor at-risk. Construction is set to begin in January 2016. The terminal is scheduled to be finished in October 2018, five months behind the originally targeted completion date of May 2018, which would have been in time for New Orleans' 300th anniversary.

The new terminal will have two concourses, totaling 30 gates. There will be a centralized security checkpoint with all new shops and restaurants behind the security checkpoint. A new garage with 2,000 parking spaces is also planned, along with a new, privately funded airport hotel. Airlines flying out of MSY have also, at their expense, funded the construction of a $39 million fuel system.[90][91]

A new entrance to the airport will route to I-10 via Loyola Drive. The plans call for demolishing concourses A, B and C of the existing southside terminal complex, while repurposing concourse D for charter services and administrative offices. The airport currently has 34 gates but only uses 30 gates; the new terminal is designed for 30 gates, with an option to expand to 42.


Top destinations[edit]

Route Map, MSY, Year-round destinations as of 1/12/16
Busiest domestic routes from MSY (November 2014 – October 2015)[92]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 718,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest
2 Houston, TX (Bush) 387,000 Spirit, United
3 Dallas, TX (DFW) 336,000 American, Spirit
4 Houston, TX (Hobby) 300,000 Southwest
5 Dallas, TX (Love) 270,000 Southwest
6 Charlotte, NC 233,000 American
7 Chicago, IL 231,000 American, Spirit, United
8 Los Angeles, CA 231,000 Delta, Southwest, United
9 Denver, CO 217,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
10 New York, NY (JFK) 167,000 Delta, JetBlue

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at MSY, 2001 through 2015[93][94]
Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 8,203,305
2009 7,787,373
2008 7,967,997
2007 7,525,533
2006 6,218,419
2015 10,673,301 2005 7,775,147
2014 9,785,394 2004 9,733,179
2013 9,207,636 2003 9,275,690
2012 8,600,989 2002 9,251,773
2011 8,548,375 2001 9,567,651

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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External links[edit]