For the first time in nearly three decades, New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport has landed a regular transatlantic flight, this time by British Airways.

The inaugural flight touches down at MSY around 6:30 p.m. local. (Photo / Matthew Hinton – New Orleans Advocate)

Minutes after passengers were unloaded off the inbound flight into New Orleans, airline executives announced the route will be flown from the initial four to five times a week between the two cities, starting this Fall.

“We are honored to be able to connect New Orleans with London Heathrow and the 130-plus destinations that British Airways flies to across Europe and beyond.” said Nicolas Krohne, the British Airways’ vice president of sales. “With a favorable exchange rate and special fares available, Britain has never been more affordable.” he added.

The airline is offering promotional fares from $899 round-trip in economy class booked by April 16th, and scheduled for select dates from early June to mid-September and early October to mid-December.

Despite sounding expensive, president and CEO of Airfarewatchdog.com, George Hobica, commented saying the fares “.. are pretty reasonable for a flight of this duration at peak travel period.” he later added, “Passengers would only save a couple hundred dollars by choosing non-direct alternatives.”

The new flight follows the following schedule to/from London-Heathrow Airport:

BA225 London / Heathrow 3:10 p.m. departure -> New Orleans 6:10 p.m. arrival  (Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat)

BA224 New Orleans 9:15 p.m. departure -> London / Heathrow 11:55 a.m. arrival  (Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat)

The flight between the two cities is scheduled to take 8 hours 40 minutes eastbound and 10 hours westbound. The aircraft being utilized for the new service is the airlines’ new Boeing 787-8 aircraft debuted in 2014, which accommodate 214 passengers in a three-cabin configuration: 154 economy seats, 25 premium economy seats, and 35 business class seats. Each passenger can enjoy free meals, beverages, on-demand entertainment, and a free checked bag.

G-ZBJE, a Boeing 787-8, was the aircraft used for the inaugural flight. This airplane is almost 3 years old. (Photo / Matthew Hinton – New Orleans Advocate)

The start of such a route is a great occasion for the city and it’s officials, as the city officials commented when the route was initially announced last year that connecting New Orleans with major business hubs like London could generate roughly $41 million in annual tourism spending for the greater New Orleans area.

“A flight linking London to New Orleans will allow even more international visitors to experience our vibrant neighborhoods, evolving food and art scene, admired traditions and so much more.” added Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The route is the first direct link to Europe the city has had since 1982 when British Airways previously flew the route. BA is set to be joined by German carrier Condor in May with new nonstop flights from New Orleans to Frankfurt. This is not the first international route from the airport, however, as Air Canada Express flies to Toronto-Pearson daily, Choice Air flies to San Pedro Sula on summer charters, Copa Airlines flies to Panama City, and Apple Vacations charters planes for flights to Cancun and Punta Cana.

The city was a gaping hole in the North America-Europe market, as it is said that 430 passengers fly daily between New Orleans and Europe connecting in hubs like Atlanta or New York. The addition of this new service is said to alleviate the amount of travelers connecting to get to their final destination. A University of New Orleans study says a record $7.4 billion was spent by visitors to New Orleans in 2016, a 5% increase from 2015.

Needless to say, the Crescent City may have be BA’s newly-found gold mine.

Photo / Matthew Hinton – New Orleans Advocate)

 

 

 

Categories: Industry Talk