"The beauty of this plan is you don't have to build any new runways," Landrieu said.
He and City Council member Latoya Cantrell stressed that the project will be funded through self-generated airport funds and federal and state grants — and therefore won't come out of funds the city needs for street light and road repairs and vital services.
The city said the project could eventually include a power plant and improved highway access that would bring the cost to $826 million.
More than $300 million in renovations and upgrades to the current terminal — including improvements to baggage claim and a new ticket lobby — will not go to waste, Landrieu and City Council member Susan Guidry said. The renovations were needed in advance of the arrival of thousands of visitors for this year's Super Bowl, Landrieu said, adding that the existing terminal will be in use for another five years before it is re-purposed.
Possible uses for existing facilities include commercial cargo and charter flight facilities along with space for airport staff, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration.
The airport is owned by the city though it is in neighboring Jefferson Parish. It is governed by a board that includes representatives from parishes surrounding New Orleans.