St. Charles Herald-Guide

Airport expansion into parish on hold

Caleb Frey - March 14, 2007

Seeking to focus more on restructuring Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner, Interim Airport Director Sean Hunter said there are no immediate plans for expansion into St. Charles Parish.

Although the current east–west runway only spans about 500 yards into St. Charles Parish, talks of expanding the airport or even building a new one definitely puts a scare into home and landowners near the Bonnet Carre Spillway. In fact, the rumors of replacing the wetlands with a new airport have been going on for nearly 30 years, Hunter told the Herald Guide before an FAA conference he was attending in Dallas. He’s very confident that a restructuring of certain airport facilities to accommodate newer aircrafts would allow for more passengers to travel with fewer planes.

“We would keep the basic footprint of the airport and focus on redevelopment of the current structure,” he said. “My feeling is we already have the capacity we need.”

Hunter noted that by spring of 2007, traffic levels at the airport would be at about 75 percent of their pre-Katrina total, with 121 flights daily compared to 165 prior to August of 2005.

Those 121 flights hold approximately 13,500 seats, about 7,000 lower than what the airport enjoyed before Katrina, but it’s a difference that doesn’t require more space to increase upon.

“You can make up those seat differences with more modern aircrafts,” he said. “Even if we did add runway capacity, by the time it was built, the technology would likely be outdated.”

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