NEW ORLEANS (AP) — About 7.9 million passengers went through Louisiana’s largest commercial airport last year — a post-Hurricane Katrina high in line with estimates in spite of the summer hurricanes and the national economic tumult, spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut said Wednesday.
That compares with 7.5 million passengers on commercial and charter flights in 2007 and the all-time high of 9.7 million reported by Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in 2004, the year before the storm.
The suburban New Orleans airport had hoped to reach about 8 million passengers last year.
“We were pretty close to what the projections were, and that’s always a positive considering the economy and how that took a downturn, particularly in the second half of the year,” she said.
The year started off strong, with the city hosting a string of high-profile events including the national college football championship and the NBA All-Star game, in addition to tourist favorites such as Jazz fest.
But hurricanes Gustav and Ike took a toll in September, and the effects of the softening national economy also were felt later in year.
The airport did end 2008 on a positive, with monthly figures for December up over December 2007.
Wilcut said officials hope to reach 8.4 million passengers this year. There has been no indication that any airlines plan service cutbacks at the airport, she said.