Armstrong International welcomes direct flights to Seattle

Mardi Gras beads and celebration welcomed travelers coming off the Alaska Air's first direct flight between Seattle and New Orleans.

Alaska Air started the direct flights Thursday, and business leaders say it could mean even more destinations are on the way.

Development groups, like GNO Inc., are hoping this inaugural flight will be the first of many. Business leaders have been working for a while to get service from New Orleans to Europe.

"New Orleans is the largest origin and destination market that doesn't have a hub to Europe," said Michael Hecht with GNO Inc. "We're also the fastest growing airport in the country."

All things GNO Inc. thinks will work in their favor as they try to nail down a deal. Last spring, business leaders traveled to London to talk with airlines. The goal is at least three direct flights a week from London to New Orleans and vice versa.

"It is going to happen. It's only a question of when and of course all of us what it yesterday," said Hecht.

Airport officials say they can handle those extra flights. Plans were unveiled for a new terminal at the start of this year; they say a new and more efficient terminal will lower costs for airlines who fly out of Armstrong.

"It's going to maximize for travelers to have an efficient comfortable experience, the passenger experience will be top notch," said Aimee Quirk with the City Mayoral Economic Development Advisor.

Quirk hopes it'll bring in more business and more travelers to New Orleans.

Follow FOX 8:    

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.