N.O. airport director: Hurricane Katrina comeback better than expected

The director of aviation at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport said progress at the airport by the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is exceeding expectations.

The airport is on track to exceed 7.5 million passengers this year, up from 6.2 million last year, Sean Hunter said.

That's still below the record 9.7 million passengers at the airport in 2004.

But "our current levels are exceeding all post-storm projections," he said.

"We now have 123 daily departures to 37 nonstop destinations with over 14,000 seats per day," he said. "This brings us to 75 percent of pre-Katrina flights, 88 percent of destinations and 69 percent of the seats. "

By early November, the airport will reach 82 percent of its pre-Katrina flights with 133 daily departures and 15,489 seats, or 75 percent of its pre-Katrina total, he said.

Also in November, Southwest Airlines will add eight daily departures and nearly 1,100 seats to Birmingham, Ala., Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston and Orlando, Fla., he said.

Hunter said several airlines have come to New Orleans for site visits starting last fall.