Audit shows better year for McCarran

McCarran International Airport lowered operating expenses to $253.3 million in the fiscal year ended June 30 while raising operating revenues to $379.2 million, according to an independent audit report presented Tuesday to the Clark County Commission.

The report from Kafoury, Armstrong & Co. showed that Clark County Department of Aviation increased net assets by $40.1 million from a year ago, largely a result of airport improvements. Assets exceeded liabilities by $1.55 billion as of June 30, compared with $1.51 billion in fiscal 2008.

Capital assets grew by $627.9 million, or 20.1 percent, in fiscal 2009. Most of that came from $550 million in improvements at McCarran, including the new security checkpoint for C gates, runway rehabilitation, completion of the fourth wing at the D-gates and remodeling of the terminal baggage area.

Another primary reason for the increase in capital assets is construction progress on Terminal 3, scheduled for completion in June 2012. Nearly $800 million has been spent on the $2.6 billion project.

McCarran, which brings about half of Las Vegas' 37 million annual visitors to town, has experienced significant declines during the current recession, Aviation Department Director Randall Walker said.

The auditors noted that McCarran passenger boardings decreased 11.8 percent to 20.7 million, compared with 23.5 million in 2008. According to Bureau of Transportation statistics, domestic U.S. airline passenger traffic decreased 7.5 percent during the same period.

Part of the decline can be attributed to the economy, but a portion is also due to US Airways discontinuing hub operations at McCarran. US Airways' passengers decreased 32.4 percent, nearly half of the airport's total decline.

The Clark County Department of Aviation is responsible for operation of McCarran International Airport, North Las Vegas Airport, Henderson Executive Airport and airports in Jean and Overton.

As an enterprise fund of the county, users of the airport provide all revenues necessary to operate and maintain the facility. The airport system is not subsidized by any tax revenue and has been a self-sustaining entity since 1966, Walker said.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at or 702-383-0491.