This article appeared in yesterday's edition of the Times Picayune...an ejoyable read for anyone interested in Air Canada's MSY service.
Nonstop flights to Toronto resume
Saturday September 06, 2003
By Rebecca Mowbray
Air Canada this week resumed the nonstop daily flight service between Toronto and New Orleans that had been suspended because of SARS, airline executives said Friday.
"We're very pleased to return to New Orleans. It's an important market for us, both for leisure travel and conventions and meetings. We certainly hope that for New Orleans that Toronto is an equally important route," John Reber, a spokesman for the Montreal-based airline, said Friday.
Air Canada announced in May that it would interrupt service to New Orleans and other cities beginning June 21 because the Toronto outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, had taken such a toll on the airline's business.
Reber said the route has performed well in the past, however, so service resumed as planned Tuesday. The flight, which uses the 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft, leaves Toronto at 9:55 a.m. CDT and departs New Orleans at 1:35 p.m.
The restoration of the Air Canada connection gives New Orleans two international flights. The El Salvadoran airline Taca flies to San Salvador with a stop in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, five times a week for most of the year, and seven days a week during the summer.
"We're happy to have them back," Michelle Duffourc, spokeswoman for Louis Armstrong International Airport, said of Air Canada. New Orleans has lost international flights in recent years as Taca's Central American consortium, Grupo Taca, cut back service, and AeroMexico and TWA eliminated international service. TWA was later absorbed by American Airlines.
The situation has been troublesome for the Louisiana Office of Tourism, which has been trying to increase international travel to Louisiana, and for the state's trade development efforts.
"International flights are extremely important," said Gina Ndas, director of the city's Office of International Trade Development. International flights help put New Orleans on the map, enable business people to do their work, and are imperative for time-sensitive cargo such as seafood, flowers, medical supplies and spare parts. Last year, Louisiana and Canada did about $2 billion worth of trade with each other, Ndas said.
"We were all glad to see that Air Canada is coming back," said Beverly Gianna, vice president of public affairs at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Canada has always been one of our strongest markets and this only helps to keep that strength and to grow it."