Now Frankfurt is calling — at least for five months.
After more than three decades without regular transatlantic service, Louis Armstrong International Airport has added its second overseas carrier in just over a month, following the start of British Airways flights to and from London.
The German airline Condor's inaugural flight landed Wednesday in New Orleans, launching twice-weekly summertime service to Frankfurt, a hub that offers connections to more than 120 destinations, including most of Europe and the Middle East.
The flights, scheduled for Wednesdays and Sundays through Oct. 4, are targeted at budget-conscious international travelers. Condor is offering one-way fares starting at $329.
The airline will use a 259-seat Boeing 767 and offer passengers complimentary checked baggage, beverages, meals and in-flight entertainment.
Condor faces the challenge of building name recognition as it expands in the U.S. market, also including new destinations in San Diego and Pittsburgh, according to Jens Boyd, an executive with the Thomas Cook Group, Condor’s parent company.
In recent years, Condor has worked to offer budget prices on long-haul flights from Germany to tourist destinations in the U.S., the Caribbean, Africa and Asia that are attractive to European travelers.
For them, New Orleans is viewed as an intriguing U.S. option, especially after they have already visited popular destinations like New York or Las Vegas.
"People that like the U.S. are actually then looking for 'Where can I go next?' because they don't want to go to the same place every year. They'd rather explore other places in the United States," Boyd said.
New Orleans is "a very large and very attractive tourist destination, but it has much too little access from the European market," Boyd said, noting that some European travelers have visited the Crescent City as an add-on to a longer trip to south Florida rather than as a trip of its own.
In March, British Airways began nonstop service from New Orleans to London's Heathrow Airport, initially four times per week, which has raised a buzz among some younger, perhaps college-age, travelers who are interested in going to Europe — a demographic that Condor hopes to tap into.
At this point, the flights have been "definitely busier" among Europeans heading to New Orleans than local people going to Europe, Boyd said.
"We're right now a little bit behind the curve of what our target was," he said, adding that international travel was off in other U.S. markets in the wake of uncertainty following President Trump's initial call for a ban on travelers from some mostly Muslim nations.
Although the New Orleans service is starting as seasonal, Boyd said Condor typically expands in markets as bookings swell. "The objective for us is having year-round service," he said.
Mark Reis, the airport's interim director, hopes that adding two of Europe's largest hubs in quick succession will put New Orleans on the radar of even more international airlines.
"They know Condor doesn't make this decision lightly," he said.
New Orleans’ airport offers nonstop service to 57 destinations, including six international cities, largely in the Caribbean. But until recently, most international carriers had bypassed the Crescent City since the 1970s, instead favoring larger regional hubs like Houston and Atlanta.
Miami-based National Airlines operated the first nonstop flight from New Orleans to Europe in the late 1970s. National was acquired in 1980 by Pan Am, which ended the service, and consumer demand in subsequent years wasn’t enough to entice another airline to fill the void.
New Orleans’ airport saw more than 11.1 million passengers last year, the most in its seven-decade history. By comparison, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest, served roughly 100 million travelers, or nine times New Orleans’ total.
International travelers are an especially appealing demographic for local tourism leaders because they tend to stay in the city longer — as long as 18 days — and spend more money during their visit than U.S. tourists.
More than 430 passengers a day travel from New Orleans to Western Europe by way of regional hubs like Atlanta, tourism officials say.
Although Condor’s market is mostly leisure rather than business travelers, Frankfurt is a major business destination in its own right, and the new service will offer another gateway to many more markets on the continent.
"This is hugely significant for both the business and the tourist markets in the region," said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., an economic development group that helped lure the flight.
Now, who may be calling next? Hecht said Asia is the "obvious next place to look."
"While the existing latent demand might not exist that we saw for Europe, we do know that there's a cultural affinity for New Orleans in Asia that could potentially make it attractive," he said.