NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - New Orleans International Airport is now one of the fastest growing airports in the nation.
Just ahead of opening a new terminal, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared MSY the fifth fastest growing airport in America over the past decade.
“We’ve gone from 38 nonstop destinations in 2008 to 56 nonstop destinations today. We’ve got a lot of activity, and it really just speaks to the strength and vibrance of the New Orleans region,” New Orleans Airport Spokesperson Erin Burns said.
GNO Inc. President Michael Hecht said the airport has seen a steady incline over the past years.
“New Orleans Airport has now not only grown 56 percent over the past decade, but we’re 36 percent above our pre-Katrina numbers. So this isn’t just a comeback from Katrina, this is actually growth above and beyond that,” Hecht said.
"It's actually really exciting to see the New Orleans Airport grow so fast, and still keeping its own cultural magical vibe that New Orleans is so well known for," Felice Hahn said.
Airport and tourism officials attribute the rapid expansion to New Orleans becoming an increasingly popular destination, as well as new technology.
"The economy is diversifying here. There's a lot of reasons people want to come to New Orleans and do business, and visit, and all that shows in the growth that we're seeing," Burns said.
"Airplanes like the 787, which British Airways is using for the flight to London, or the Airbus A350 are smaller planes that still allow for folks to go long distances, so that's creating a lot of international travel that we're seeing," Hecht said.
They say the new terminal will help accommodate the growth.
"One of the key features of the terminal that people don't know is that because it's going to be energy and cost efficient, it's going to significantly reduce those costs further. So airlines like flying into New Orleans because it costs them less than other airports," Hecht said.
"We'll go from 5,600 parking options to 8,000 parking spaces when we open the new terminal, and there will also be greater capacity on the roadways, so it'll just make it a more convenient experience for people driving in," Burns said.
Airport officials will only say the new terminal will open this fall, but won’t say when it will happen.