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$1 billion in additional improvements at the New Orleans International Airport planned

17 Nov 2000

Justice Revius O. Ortique Jr., Chairman of the New Orleans Aviation Board, told a group of business leaders this week that more than $1 billion in

additional improvements at the New Orleans International Airport are under consideration.

"We are studying how we can most appropriately continue the $850 million rebuilding, renovation and expansion program that we began six years ago,"

said Justice Ortique said in an address at the World Trade Center on Thursday. "We have literally looked at $1 billion in possible new projects.

These are not pie-in-the-sky ideas but practical programs that can bring more business to the Airport, to Metro New Orleans and to the Gulf South."

Among the parts of the $850 million rebuilding program that are planned for 2001 are the rebuilding of Concourses A and B, construction of a 300-room

hotel on Airport property, a consolidated rental car facility and a truck marshaling yard to expedite the flow of air cargo.

Justice Ortique, who served on and retired from the Louisiana Supreme Court before being named Chair of the Aviation Board, also said that he does not

think plans for a proposed North-South parallel runway will be turned down for environmental reasons. He noted that an Interstate highway already has been placed in the wetlands where the parallel runway would go. "I don't think the alligators and the fish who live in the wetlands know the difference between an Interstate highway and a parallel runway," Justice Ortique said.

He also said that a proposed cargo airport to be built near Gonzales would mean serious air transportation problems for businesses located in Metro

New Orleans. "What would businesspeople in New Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Bernard Parishes do if the airport were moved to Gonzales or even

to Gulfport?" Justice Ortique asked. "Could they afford to watch this happen and the negative results it would have on their businesses?"

At thesame time some are considering a new airport near Baton Rouge, the New Orleans International Airport has successfully brought in five new airlines

while offering new nonstop flights to Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, San Diego, Phoenix and other major metropolitan centers.

"When I became Chairman of the Aviation Board, the most frequently heard complaint was that you couldn't get anywhere from New Orleans without changing planes," said Justice Ortique. "Today, thanks to an expansive increase in services by Southwest Airlines and the addition of Midway,

Metrojet, America West, Air Canada and Vanguard to our roster of airlines, travelers tell us they can reach most destinations from New Orleans

without leaving the aircraft they boarded at our Airport."

Justice Ortique said the addition of two new cargo facilities at the Airport - including the first on-site Perishable Goods Center - have created new

jobs and opened the door for regular air cargo services from South America and Mexico to New Orleans.

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