Armstrong Airport makes progress in its efforts to rebound amid the ongoing pandemic; holiday travel will help

Air travel is increasing monthly
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - July 4th travel was already evident on Thursday at Louis Armstrong International Airport. And it is another step in helping the airport rebound after the pandemic knocked the wind out of air travel nationwide.

Kevin Dolliole is Director of Aviation at Armstrong Airport.

“The 4th of July weekend would be a very heavy travel period. In fact, the airlines in responding to the demand have added about 4% more capacity to this weekend than they did even for the Memorial Day weekend, so it’ll be pretty busy with Friday being the heaviest day,” said Dollie.

He said the airport is steadily making progress in terms of gaining back passengers.

“We are and it’s going to sound strange for me to say this, but it’s a good thing to say, we’re only 30% down for this, for last month over that month in 2019. Now, that’s normally not a good number to put out there but in this case, as we’ve been rebounding, it’s good to say we’re only 30% down for the month of June compared to that month in ’19,” said Dolliole.

He expects the gains in travelers to continue.

“April about 45% down, so you can see we’ve been steadily ticking down, and we expect to see that continued slow trend of improvement through the rest of this year through next year and finally back to ’19 numbers by 2023,” said Dolliole.

Travel through Armstrong Airport was robust before the pandemic began.

“Twenty-nineteen before the pandemic we did 13.6 million passengers, so it would be good to get back to that, we hope to be back to that by 2023 and then going beyond that,” said Dolliole.

People heading to flights were happy to be traveling again.

“Well, it’s a good thing because we could get back to the norm and well, we just have to take it one step at a time,” said Sapha Senegal.

Linda Senegal agreed. They were flying from New Orleans to New York.

“I haven’t flown since COVID and this is the first one since COVID, but I am just anxious, and may I add we are vaccinated,” said Linda Senegal.

Laura Bayer and her daughter Emma were heading to St. Petersburg to visit a relative.

“It feels nice, I’m excited, you know, like things are starting to feel like getting back to normal,” said Laura Bayer.

“Little nervous but that’s just because I’m a little nervous of flying in general,” said Emma Bayer. Masks are still required in all airports and on airplanes.

“And if you haven’t traveled since the pandemic then you’ll see some differences in the airport, you’ll see plexiglass barriers at key spots where folks interact with different employees around the airport,” said Dolliole.

Armstrong Airport and airports around the country received financial help from the federal government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have received our fair share of relief funds as well; we’re about $47.7 million in the first package, about $13 million in the second package, and this package we’re expecting around $50 million from the package overall,” said Dolliole.

And he says there is ample parking and travelers can check the airport’s website for real-time parking information.

“Remember, we have four different options, we have a short-term facility, long-term facility here on the northside and a surface lot, and then in the economy parking garage with shuttle service on the south side of the airport, so plenty of space,” said Dolliole.

Travelers are urged to get to the airport two hours ahead of their scheduled flight.

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