NEW ORLEANS—Passenger levels were up nearly 9 percent at Louisiana's largest commercial airport last month, with concert-goers, conventioners and football fans helping provide the boost.
Statistics released by Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport show there were 704,686 passengers on domestic, international and charter flights last month. That compares with 648,544 passengers in October 2008.
The month ended with a rock music festival Halloween weekend, better-attended business and trade association meetings and amid the continued surge of the New Orleans Saints. It also followed what airport spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut called the best September since Hurricane Katrina.
Summer is typically a slow travel period for New Orleans, a city whose economy relies heavily on tourism. But the last few years have been particularly tough, with the devastation left by the 2005 storm and levee breaches and slow recovery that followed, and Hurricane Gustav, which shut the city down for several days in September 2008.
New Orleans also saw the pullout of ExpressJet service last year but it's resumed international flight service with Aeromexico.
For the first 10 months of 2009, about 6.5 million passengers traveled through the suburban New Orleans airport. While that's down nearly 3 percent from 2008, Wilcut said officials are pleased with where things stand given the still-sluggish national economy and the hits other U.S. cities are seeing. Heading into what's expected to be a busy Thanksgiving travel period, she said officials are hopeful 2009 will end essentially flat.