Microsoft cancels 3 New Orleans meetings, cites lack of flights

Posted by bink on October 7 2006, 4:33 PM. Posted in Events.

Lack of airline flights in and out of New Orleans prompted Microsoft Corp. to cancel three meetings expected to bring a total of more than 30,000 people to New Orleans next year.

They had been planned as the first meetings in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which has held several worldwide events bringing thousands of people to the city since 2002.

Microsoft spokeswoman Robyn Kratzer confirmed to The Associated Press that the company was forced to cancel the planned events because they thought it would be too difficult to transport thousands of attendees, including some international travelers, in and out of the city.

``It was an extremely difficult situation and a difficult decision for Microsoft, but it was totally around logistics,'' Kratzer told AP.

Two of the meetings were expected to bring 14,000 people each, and the third about 4,000.

Service at Louis Armstrong International Airport is 61 percent of what it was before the storm, but the airport has been able to get extra flights for other special events, spokeswoman Michelle Duffourc said.

Continental Airlines has been particularly willing to put larger aircraft on its flights or schedule extra flights to the city when needed, she said.

However, nobody from Microsoft or the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau asked the airport to help keep the conventions, she said.

``That is really not true,'' convention bureau spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig said. She said the Microsoft meetings and their dates were mentioned ``some time ago'' during the bureau's continuing talks with the airport about flight problems.

About Microsoft's decision, she said: ``Of course we are sorry they changed their mind. We are continuing to work with them for future dates in future years.''