KENNER, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans was once called the "Gateway to the Americas" with quick access to Latin America and the Caribbean. A new carrier for the airport with direct flights to Panama continues efforts to regain that distinction. It only takes a quick trip to the French Quarter to find satisfied customers. Morgan and Paul Ammerman are on their honeymoon. Morgan said, "The city is very hospitable to tourist. Very, very friendly and helpful actually seem to be happy to help you which New Yorkers are good people, but they're not friendly the same way."
The Ammerman's could fly direct from New York, but the Greinemann's took a more roundabout approach from Switzerland. Peter Greinemann said, "We came by car from Florida." They didn't even think of flying. Regina Greinemann said, "It's quite a long trip if you come from Switzerland like 11 hours or so it's better to have the jet lag behind us and now we can enjoy." While this couple didn't mind driving in Kim Priez, Vice President of Tourism with the Convention and Visitor's Bureau says more convenient flights will bring in more international visitors. Priez said, "Accessibility is key when you are in the competition with other cities around America. Our international numbers would double with more air service."
Now New Orleans can add Panama with the addition of Copa Airlines offering four direct flights a week starting in June. After several big announcements of new flights here to Louis Armstrong International Airport these new flights to Panama promise to open up South America. The flight will be just over three hours. The Copa flights will land at their Hub of the Americas in Panama City allowing passengers to connect with 55 destinations in South America and the Caribbean without going through customs. Priez sees the new partnership as a major win and hopes it will encourage more international carriers to offer flights from Louis Armstrong. Priez said, "If we can prove to airlines that we can be successful in other regions I believe that that's going to be the proof that we need to say that New Orleans is ready to be a true international airport." Greinemann said, "In Switzerland we have a very big Carnival as well and we wanted to see how you do it here." With more flights, more international tourists will get the chance to compare.