Permanent air traffic control service is set to resume for the first time since Hurricane Katrina at an airport near downtown New Orleans.
“Hopefully, everything’s on track and it will open up Monday,” Lakefront Airport’s aviation director, Randy Taylor, said Wednesday.
Service is set to be limited, with workers initially relying on radios and cell phones — without the radar equipment in place before the August 2005 storm, said C.W. Baker, president of the local National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Hours of operation also will be reduced, Baker said.
Lakefront logged the most flights since Katrina in April, increasing to 4,000 that month. That’s comparable to nearby Louis Armstrong International Airport.
Federal aviation officials hope to restore tower operations, with radar coverage and landline telephones, by the beginning of next year, said Roland Herwig, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
He said airport improvements will determine when any additional workers, beyond the three controllers and one supervisor, might be brought on.
Lakefront Airport has long been favored over the larger Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport by business executives, celebrities and politicians because of its easy access to downtown and lack of commercial crowds.
Lakefront has been operating without a functioning air traffic control tower since the August 2005 hurricane — Louis Armstrong International took over its traffic control after the storm.
Union leaders and members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation have pressed the FAA to restore permanent services, citing safety concerns.