Greater New Orleans is Ready to Fly

British Airways flight 224 took off tonight from New Orleans, and will land nine hours later in Europe, at London Heathrow. The last time a regularly scheduled flight did this was in 1982, 35 years ago. And, demand for this new flight is so strong that BA has already decided to add another day to the route, bringing the service to five days a week during peak months.

This direct connection to Heathrow, the third busiest airport in the world, is a game-changer for Greater New Orleans. It will have a major positive stimulation effect on business, tourism and conventions. As Greg Rusovich, Chairman of the Louisiana Board of International Commerce, said, “This is a knock-it-out-of-the-park win for our state and region – it’s a perfect demonstration of the success and effectiveness of our global concentration and focus. London and beyond, here we come!”

So how did we get to London? Teamwork and perseverance (and technology).

Landing this British Airways flight was the result of a 4+ year team effort, led by the Airport, Stephen Perry and the NOCVB, and GNO, Inc. The Mayor, Jefferson leaders, Governor, Lt. Governor and LED also played indispensable roles. Over 100 other business people, civic leaders and interested parties – from Lafayette to Pensacola – pitched in. Without question, this flight would not have happened but for exceptional public/private teamwork.

And it took perseverance: four years, three trips to London, and hundreds of hours of analysis, development and meetings. We didn’t get it on our first, or even second try. But we were confident that the more British Airways came to understand the numbers, the narrative and the team, the more they would come to see that New Orleans was an outstanding opportunity.

Finally, it took technology: the Boeing 787 aircraft. The “Dreamliner” is the most advanced commercial jetliner flying today. Not only does the 787 fly at lower pressure and higher humidity – resulting in a more refreshing flight – but it also is a smaller, more fuel efficient long-haul aircraft, making routes like New Orleans / London more accessible.

As you are reading this article, our first flight to Europe in four decades is taking off. Greater New Orleans is ready to fly!

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