In a move that should surprise none of the locals who have questioned the expenditures and infrastructural readiness tied to the new airport terminal’s construction, city officials announced today that the project has been delayed—again.
“I accept the responsibility of making sure that when our new airport opens, it is at 100 percent readiness,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a press release. “The fact is: it is not ready, and there is more work to be done to get us there.”
Construction on the 972,000-square-foot, 35-gate terminal began in January 2016. Originally, it was supposed to open in May 2018. Faulty sewer lines and shifting soil pushed the grand opening date to February 2019, then to May 2019, according to reporting from the New Orleans Advocate. The price increased along with the build time, from an initial estimate of $598 million to just over $1 billion.
Now the opening has been postponed again, and officials gave no clear reason why.
“It’s a big and complicated project, so it’s important we take this time to ensure that all systems are fully functional,” said Doug Thornton, Chair of the New Orleans Aviation Board Construction Committee, in a press release.
“The additional time is going to allow us to deliver a world-class airport and ensure a safe and seamless transition so that our passengers have the best possible experience,” said Director of Aviation Kevin C. Dolliole in a press release.
According to airport officials, the new terminal is 95 percent complete, and the added cushion of time will give locals time to adjust to the new interstate access routes. (The new flyover ramp won’t be completed until 2023, and the widening of Loyola Drive is underway.)
A silver lining? Anyone who enjoys flying in and out of the campy, domed arrival hall at New Orleans’ circa-1959 airport will be able to savor the experience for a little while longer.