- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A new airport study finds nearly two-thirds of travelers who live near enough to use the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport shun it to fly out of other airports.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1Rv1AmL) the airport released the study Tuesday, which reveals new insights about the airport’s reach and its estimated $1.1 billion total economic output in Baton Rouge.

But to ensure the airport’s long-term success, persuading the 63 percent of people each day who choose other airports before Baton Rouge will be an important hurdle to overcome.

Airport officials said they see the statistic as both welcome news and a challenge.

The glass-half-full look at it is that the Baton Rouge Airport now has identified a hefty base of 2,615 potential customers daily to try to lure away from New Orleans. That figure includes not only local people traveling to New Orleans - fliers who live within 50 to 100 miles of Baton Rouge - but also travelers from more far-flung locations who drive past the Capital City to fly out of Louis Armstrong.

That means airport officials will need to convince these people now making long commutes, in many cases for cheaper deals, that there are reasons to begin their flights closer to home. Persuading people to choose Baton Rouge also would be a key component to enticing airlines to add more flights.

“The community has to know and understand, if they were staying here, that service would be here,” said Assistant Director of Aviation Ralph Hennessy.

The perception of cheaper, more available flights and more direct flights out of New Orleans is one of the biggest reasons travelers stray, the study from consulting group Emergent Method found. Travelers also enjoy the presence of Southwest Airlines in New Orleans, along with the added leisure options at that airport.

The study shows it can be between $42 and $160 cheaper for a traveler to hop on a New Orleans flight rather than a Baton Rouge one when traveling to Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Houston and Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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