New Orleans Lands Transatlantic FlightsBritish Airways and Condor Set To Begin Flights In Spring
International non-stop flights connecting New Orleans with both London and Frankfurt are set to begin in spring 2017 -- the first nonstop flights to Europe from the Crescent City since 1982. The announcements are major accomplishments in expanding Louisiana’s booming tourism industry, as well as in creating better efficiencies between Gulf South-based transatlantic businesses. They also fortify New Orleans’ identity as a global city attractive to entrepreneurship and new investment.
The first nonstop flights to Europe from New Orleans since 1982 are set to begin in spring 2017.
In October, British Airways officials delivered a highly anticipated decision to begin year-round non-stop flights between New Orleans and London’s Heathrow Airport. The flights are scheduled to begin in March. London is a popular destination for American travelers, and Heathrow can connect passengers to more than 130 destinations in and outside of Europe.
The British Airways decision followed another major announcement in June 2016, when the German leisure airline Condor committed to seasonal service between Frankfurt, Germany and New Orleans. Flights will take place twice a week and will run this year between May 3 and September 27. Frankfurt connects travelers to more than 120 destinations.
Until the Condor announcement, year-round non-stop international flights originating from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) included Toronto, Canada; Panama City, Panama; Cancun, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as well as seasonal non-stop flights to Freeport, Bahamas and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Local economic development and tourism officials had been working steadily to try to reestablish MSY’s transatlantic portfolio. The announcements came after a combined four-year effort on the part of public and private sectors. GNO Inc., the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and Gov. John Bel Edwards were key players.
“’Game changer’ is the best way to describe this announcement,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO, Inc. “Reconnecting the New Orleans region to Europe will have a dramatic positive impact on tourism, conventions and business – and will go a long way towards making New Orleans once again a truly global economic player.”
“Reconnecting the New Orleans region to Europe will have a dramatic positive impact on tourism, conventions and business.”
Hecht says that part of the effort included convincing the airlines that Greater New Orleans had the numbers to demonstrate current – and growing – demand. Indeed, according to GNO, Inc. more than 435 passengers a day were already going from MSY to London and other major cities in Western Europe, but were forced to connect at other domestic airports, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.
Another winning factor for New Orleans was the lack of airport competition elsewhere in the Gulf South. MSY is the only airport of its size in a 300-mile radius. More than 5 million people live within a three-hour drive of the terminal.
Hecht and other officials also painted a picture of a city able to showcase significant job growth in not only legacy sectors such as manufacturing, but also in technology and digital media. The city has earned top accolades in multiple business rankings for several consecutive years, including the No. 2 spot in three categories of Business Facilities’ 2016 “Annual Rankings Report,” Lowest Cost of Business, Entrepreneurship Leaders and Logistics Leaders.
Tourism numbers were also a major selling point. In June 2016, New Orleans hosted the IPW convention, the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and largest generator of travel to the United States. According to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, the event is expected to generate $4.7 billion in future travel to the U.S. Travel to New Orleans itself has been on a steady increase, setting a new record in 2015 and surpassing levels set before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2015, visitors spent $7.05 billion, up 3.5 percent from in 2014, according to the NOCVB.
With the launch of non-stop flights to two major European cities, New Orleans and Louisiana anticipate welcome benefits for both international commerce and tourism – indeed, a world of opportunities.