Airport undergoes $300 million makeover - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Airport undergoes $300 million makeover

Improvements made to the baggage claim area at Armstrong International Airport Improvements made to the baggage claim area at Armstrong International Airport

Kenner, La. -- More than half a million people will pass through Armstrong International Airport in the next few weeks.  Their first impression will be brightly-lit concourses, the scent of local cuisine and a sample of what makes New Orleans so unique.

"We want folks to know that we are glad that they're here, we're thankful that they've come to our city and that we appreciate their business," says Director of Aviation Iftikhar Ahmad.

Leaders from around the metro area officially unveiled Armstrong's $300 million makeover Tuesday.  The finishing touches are still being made but New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says it will be ready for the Super Bowl, in just 19 days.

"All the naysayers said, 'You can't possibly get it all done at the time,'" he says. "'The RTA streetcar line won't be ready. The streets won't be ready. The Superdome won't be ready. The Convention Center won't be ready. The airport won't be ready.'  Ladies and gentlemen, we're ready."

The project included new lighting in the terminal and baggage claim areas, a new rental car facility located next to the terminal and seven new restaurants that showcase some of city's finest food.

With the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras in the next month and even more big events on the calendar later this year, everyone here wants to make sure that first impression is a lasting one.

"I can say I've been just as delayed as anybody else and I've had beignets at one of the places," says Rita Benson LeBlanc, owner/vice chairwoman of the board of the New Orleans Saints and Hornets.  "There's just something about when you land at home or you leave.  And there's definitely that presence of New Orleans.  It's authentic here and even more so, it's so beautiful at the airport."

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