International travelers lead increase in McCarran arrivals in February

Passenger counts at McCarran International Airport climbed for the fifth straight month in February with international arrivals continuing to lead the way.

The Clark County Department of Aviation on Thursday announced that 3.1 million passengers passed through McCarran’s gates in February, a 2.4 percent increase over the same month a year ago and the first February since 2012 that the 3 million mark was eclipsed.

International counts increased by 4 percent to 227,312 passengers for the month while domestic arrivals rose by 2.2 percent to 2.8 million people.

Passenger counts grew by a greater percentage than capacity, an indication that airlines had greater success filling their planes in February. Analysts said the city’s strong convention calendar for the month boosted growth.

Las Vegas market leader Southwest Airlines continued to provide the most passengers with 1.2 million for the month, a 1.1 percent increase over February 2012. Southwest had a fractional increase in seats into the market, due to expanding the capacity of its Boeing 737 jets with an additional row of seats.

Among the top five carriers serving McCarran, legacy carriers Delta and United and Las Vegas-based Allegiant had passenger declines.

Delta, the No. 2 operator at McCarran, had a 10.7 percent decline in passengers, to 254,258. Delta had more flights but fewer seats to the market than a year ago, an indication that the airline has rerouted its fleet to bring smaller aircraft to Las Vegas.

United reduced the number of flights and seats to the market in February, resulting in a 1.3 percent decline in passengers to 274,247.

Allegiant had one less flight than a year ago, but increased seat capacities in its MD-80 jets. The end result was a 2.7 percent decline in passengers to 164,663 for the month.

American Airlines, in the midst of its merger with US Airways, increased the number of flights and seats to the Las Vegas market. The end result: a 4.9 percent increase in traffic to 200,516 passengers.

While the volume wasn’t as great, the percentage increases in international arrivals was strong.

Panama-based Copa Airlines had a 63.4 percent growth in passengers to 11,788, thanks to five additional flights to the market over last year. The airline now offers 12 flights a week.

Mexico’s Aeromexico and Interjet also had increases for the month, but Virgin Atlantic, one of the two carriers with nonstop flights between London and Las Vegas, lost market share to rival British Airways. Virgin Atlantic reduced capacity by flying smaller aircraft on the route while British Airways added one weekly flight.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.