Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Mon January 18 2016

New Orleans is Getting a Beautiful New Airport Terminal

Airlines & Airports | Paul Thompson | January 18, 2016

New Orleans is Getting a Beautiful New Airport Terminal

Renderings via YouTube

Great news for those who travel to New Orleans — Louis Armstrong International Airport just broke ground on a brand new 30-gate terminal. This project will put a desperately needed jewel in the crown of one of the South’s most fun and quirky cities, and meet the growing demand for air travel into the city, which experienced a record high number of visitors in 2015.

If you have traveled into the airport in recent years, you may have noticed a particular funkiness — and I don’t mean jazz music piping from the PA speakers. The older terminals have a musty odor, like a beach towel that was never properly dried, and then got lost on the floorboard of your car. No help to its current state, the airport was one of the city’s many Hurricane Katrina casualties in 2005. The gate areas are cramped, while shopping and dining options are sparse.

New Orleans mayor, Mitch Landrieu told, “(Modern airports) are really one of those things that has helped transform economies around the world.”

READ MORE: Carnival Expects Record Year From New Orleans

The new 650,000 square foot “North Terminal” will replace the existing A, B, and C concourses, and will repurpose the newer D concourse into operational space for charter flights, as well as airport offices.

TSA screening will be consolidated into one checkpoint. The airport has found that security lines varied throughout the day at each checkpoint, based on the schedules of the airlines fed by those checkpoints. One would get slammed, while the other would be a ghost town. A single checkpoint allows the TSA to more efficiently staff for the peaks and valleys of passenger flow.

The project was formally announced in April 2013, after design studies had begun in 2011.

Mayor Landrieu’s office says the new airport is necessary because the current terminal is over 50 years old, and the upkeep costs of the aging infrastructure have become unsustainable.

Renowned Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli designed the terminal, a structure set to have floor-to-ceiling (no doubt hurricane resistant) glass covering most of its exterior.

Its 30 gates will be divided between two new concourses, with potential to expand into a third concourse, resulting in 42 total gates. Airline operations will not be interrupted during construction, as the new terminal is being built across the runway from the current one.

The configuration of the two runways will not change, either.

The total price tag for the project comes to nearly $1 billion, and will include construction on I-10, to add exit ramps for the new main terminal.

The official project timeline shows a planned opening of the terminal on May 2, 2018, coinciding with the city’s Tricentennial.

READ MORE: New Orleans' Landmark Hotel Reopens After $16.4 Million Renovation

Side note: if you have ever wondered why the New Orleans Airport has the airport code MSY, it was previously named Moisant Field, for aviation pioneer John Bevins Moisant. Moisant was the first pilot to conduct passenger flights over a city, and across the English Channel.

He also founded and performed with a flying circus, and oddly, led two failed revolutions and coup attempts in El Salvador where he conducted business ventures. In 1910, he died in a plane crash in Kenner, Louisiana, site of the current airport. The airport name was changed to New Orleans International in 1960, and Louis Armstrong International Airport in 2001, honoring the 100th birthday of the native-born jazz legend. 

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