Political unrest in Honduras, the swine flu epidemic in Mexico and resulting travel advisories took a toll on the demand for flights out of New Orleans, said Michelle Wilcut, spokeswoman for Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
The now-canceled direct AeroMexico flights, which had a final destination to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, also suffered as a result worldwide economic crisis.
A statement released by Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office places the decision to cancel flights during the Nagin administration but that they are now working towards expanding service:
“The decision to cancel the route was made by the airline while the Nagin administration was still in office. The Landrieu administration, the Airport, and tourism industry leadership are working diligently on expanding service to Armstrong International Airport to ensure that New Orleans remains a world class travel destination.”
A year after AeroMexico teamed up with local business and civic leaders to trumpet the return of direct flights from New Orleans to Mexico City, the service has been quietly suspended.
Airport spokeswoman Michelle Wilcut said any statement about such service changes would come from Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office, which did not return calls for comment.
City Council President Arnie Fielkow, who serves on the council’s airport committee, said the loss of the only international direct flight from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport hurts.
“Loss of service would be a detriment to the city,” he said Friday evening, noting that a he’d not heard of the cancelations until contacted by a reporter.
Direct service began in July 2009 with six flights weekly. The announcement signaled the beginning of international traffic in and out of the city after Katrina, with the Mexico City flights traveling on to the final destination of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
But in March, the service was decreased to two or three times weekly depending on the demand for service.
According to a AeroMexico flight reservations representative, the flights were suspended three weeks ago.
Compared to connecting in Houston or Dallas and spending at least five hours traveling, the direct two-hour, 45 minute flight represented a significant decrease. Such connecting flights are still available to travelers leaving from New Orleans.