Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Regional airports to get overflow Super Bowl air traffic

WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports 

 HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - The excitement for Super Bowl XLVII is building. Thousands of fans have flown in to south Louisiana for the week-long party - many of them on private jets. That it means business is taking off for smaller airports. 

 The party in the Big Easy is already in full swing, but those coming to town on private planes will be flying in non-stop all weekend long.

"When New Orleans fills up, and Lake Front fills up then it will be Hammond that they start sending aircraft to. And we've already been notified that they're looking to send 40 aircraft our way, which puts us up to about 117 aircraft," said Jason Ball, director or Hammond Regional Airport.

Ball says this is a big deal for smaller regional airport; but he says he and his crew have everything under control.

"We have an air traffic control tower that was brought in just for this event," said Ball. "Ours won't be done until 2014, so the state and the guard brought one in from Alexandria."

Pilot and aircraft owner Erin Pierce says the last time the Super Bowl was in New Orleans, airports around the state did get some overflow travelers but nothing like what they are about see in the next few days.

"There's just a lot of options for people to get into aircraft...private aircraft to go flying instead of using the airlines. And the airline's less pleasant if you don't want to take your shoes off and go through a full body scanner," said Pierce.

With all of the excitement behind the big game, its festivities and all New Orleans has to offer tourists, Ball also hopes this is an opportunity to promote the Hammond area to folks from all over the world.

"We'll get the FBO's to put in the aircraft, some information about our area...about the entire Northshore area...That way when they are sitting on the runway, waiting to take off, they have a little something to read and possibly can look at a long-term commitment or a long-term relationship," said Ball.

There are rumors that a few celebrity guests could be on some of those flights. If this is true, Ball says their names will not be released, but he will not be passing up the chance to take a picture of a star.

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