In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, the Baton Rouge Metro Airport has seen a surge in activity.
Though airport officials do not have current figures on enplanements and deplanements, which are released only on a monthly basis, departing flights on all airlines have been completely full this week, according to information provided by the airlines to airport officials.
“Our overall load factor for all airlines combined has increased in recent months to about 80% of their (pre-pandemic levels),” says spokesperson Jim Caldwell. “But flights have been running virtually 100 percent full since Tuesday, based on feedback from the airlines. A limited number of seats are available today, slightly more on Saturday, but Sunday and beyond has good availability as of now.”
Unsurprisingly, today’s nonstop flight from BTR to Los Angeles’ LAX, which United added to bring LSU fans to watch the Tigers’ season opener against UCLA, was sold out.
Sunday’s return flight is almost full.
Based on anecdotal information from the airlines, the airport appears to be experiencing “spillage” from New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport, which only today resumed limited service since shutting down last weekend, Caldwell says.
“Based on seating capacity for Tuesday through Friday of this week, and the fact that virtually all flights are full, our passenger count is up approximately 100 percent compared to the same period last year, and essentially equal to 2019,” Caldwell says. “Our seating capacity for the period is about 20% below those same days in 2019 (last pre-COVID year), but it is offset by full flights compared to a 78 percent load factor in 2019. We have experienced a big increase in activity this year, but this week has been more like 2019 activity levels.”