McCarran Passenger Count Still Soaring - Wednesday 31st of May 2006

by Jennifer Robison

Las Vegas Gaming Wire

Like the planes that fly out of McCarran International Airport, passenger counts at McCarran continue to head sky-high.

Nearly 3.9 million travelers made their way through McCarran in April, a 4.8 percent increase over the 3.7 million flyers who used the airport in April 2005.

Rosemary Vassiliadis, deputy director of the Clark County Department of Aviation, partly attributed the increase to more flights, with both Southwest Airlines and United Airlines adding flights in the month.

Plus, the National Association of Broadcasters boosted attendance at its annual Las Vegas conference in late April from 105,000 in 2005 to 135,000 in 2006. Also, the 25,000-attendee International Security Conference and the 35,000-attendee CTIA Wireless 2006 conference raised visitor counts to Las Vegas, Vassiliadis said.

In the first four months of the year, McCarran's passenger counts are up 4.9 percent, from about 14.1 million in 2005 to almost 14.8 million in 2006.

Though McCarran remains on a record pace for 2006, the number of travelers into the airport in April was down from March, when visitor count surpassed 4 million for the first time.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's basketball tournament, which draws hordes of bettors looking to gamble on hoops, and several high-profile NASCAR races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway have made March a traditionally strong month for local visitor volume.

In April, Southwest remained the No. 1 airline for arriving and departing passengers at McCarran. Southwest sent 1.3 million passengers through McCarran, up 15.4 percent when compared with April 2005's 1.1 million passengers.

America West-US Air ranked second, with 644,935 passengers in April, down 0.7 percent from 649,325 in the same month a year earlier. United was No. 3, with 297,262 passengers. That's up 10.8 percent from the same month a year earlier.

American and Delta both shed passengers in April.

American dropped from 216,628 passengers a year ago to 188,552 passengers, a 13 percent decline. And Delta's passenger count fell 24.2 percent, from 247,525 in April 2005 to 187,669 the same month a year later.

Vassiliadis blamed Delta's decline on cost-cutting measures resulting from its fall bankruptcy filing.

She added that American was reducing flights to shave costs in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.

Yet, despite the two airlines' lost passengers, McCarran has stayed busy, Vassiliadis said.

"We traditionally used to have slower days of the week, including Tuesday and Wednesday," she said. "But it doesn't appear to be that way anymore. You can tell, walking through the airport on any given day, that (traffic) is healthy. The past two years, we haven't had many slow days."

Arriving and departing passengers at McCarran

April 2006

April 2005

3,884,824

3,707,051

Arriving and departing passengers year-to-date:

2006

2005

14,755,745

14,064,009

Top five scheduled airlines serving McCarran

Airline

April 2006

April 2005

Southwest

1,304,026

1,129,564

America West

644,935

649,325

United

297,262

268,309

American

188,552

216,628

Delta

187,669

247,525

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