The small airport satisfaction  rankings are out and it is no surprise that Louis Armstrong New Orleans International is near the bottom of the list.  You can check them out here. ( http://www.jdpower.com/travel/ratings/airport-ratings/small/sortcolumn-1/ascending/page-#page-anchor ) The only airport with lower ratings is San Jose (SJC), which lacks jetways for half its concourses and reminded me of a used plane sales lot the last time I flew through it.

The issues with Armstrong are fairly evident to anyone who has ever flown through it. It is inconsistent across the concourses with some very modern and well designed (C & D) and others horribly dated (B). The baggage claim for the majority of carriers is in need of significant updating. The passenger pickup area is a dirty and dank cave. The food is generally bad and the kiosks providing most food and drink have inconsistent quality and service and hours that don’t meet the needs of all the travelers particularly those leaving very early or arriving late.

The current Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) is an outdated airport. It needs to be updated to remain viable. Expansion would be difficult due to jurisdictional conflicts between the City of New Orleans, City of Kenner, Jefferson Parish and St. Charles Parish.

There has been talk for decades about building a new airport to either compliment or supplant MSY, in New Orleans East or between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

I’d like to take this opportunity to suggest another option.

Revamp Lakefront Airport as a new international airport.

With the airport designation NEW, New Orleans Lakefront Airport is an overlooked asset for the city. And since the creation of a new airport is a time consuming and arduous process, we should focus on revamping Lakefront and expanding it to handle international service.   Give incentives to international carriers to come into the market by giving them breaks on landing fees.

An aerial view of NEW, Lakefront Aiport

It’s location on a man-made peninsula on Lake Pontchartrain means that it could be expanded without using  already occupied land. With a new connector road in the corridor between Downman road and the Industrial Canal the airport would be minutes from downtown. It’s position next to the Industrial Canal and with a major rail link backing up to the property makes it a natural for inter-modal transportation opportunities.

Then we could move most of the national carriers that also handle international flights (Continental, Delta, American, United, etc) to the new airport, leaving MSY to handle carriers that don’t have international flights (Southwest, JetBlue, etc)   This is a model used successfully by cities like Houston (Hobby and IAH), Washington (DCA and IAD), Dallas (Love and DFW) and the Bay Area (SFO and Oakland) to grow their airlinks.  Build the New Airport with expanded cargo facilities and make a significant attempt to lure cargo flights from Miami, Memphis, Atlanta and Dallas. It’s position next to the Industrial Canal and with a major rail link backing up to the property makes it a natural for inter-modal transportation opportunities. Connect the new airport to rail lines that run directly to the port facilities.

This new airport and an expanded list of direct air connections are essential for the goal of being involved with the business of international trade and would also enhance our ability to attract both visitors and new businesses.

Revamping Lakefront Airport (NEW) as the new New Orleans International Airport positions our city to truly take advantage of our geographic location and enhance our position as Gateway to the Americas.  And the world.

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