Managers of limousine and shuttle bus companies, when calculating their bids for the four available slots to serve McCarran International Airport, will have to guess more than they did in the past.
Currently, more than 90 percent of the passengers who choose limo or shuttle rides follow predictable patterns out of the six doors at the baggage claim area at Terminal 1. As a result, the six incumbent companies -- one at each door -- know exactly how much revenue flows to each location.
"We all know that at T1, you bid on a door," said Alan Waxler, the co-owner of AWG Ambassador, at a pre-bid conference Friday.
By contrast, the company booths will clump together at two locations in the new Terminal 3, due to open late next June. That makes traffic hard to predict, he said.
The difference in geography is critical for the companies because a major component of their bids involves minimum rent they promise to pay the airport annually. Bids must accurately reflect revenues to avoid losses.
Limo and shuttle companies need airport approval to pick up passengers that pay for their rides either on the spot or as part of vacation packages. Airport officials decided in April to reduce the number of slots from six to four because of drop in passenger traffic, potentially squeezing out two existing companies. Some $41.4 million in annual transport revenue is at stake.
At this point, admitted Scott Kichline, the airport's commercial and business development manager, bidders can only guess at customer behavior.
"Until we know exactly how (T3) will operate, we don't know" how customers will choose companies.
Even before the meeting started in a McCarran conference room, a representative of one of the approximately dozen companies in attendance asked why the number of slots was being slashed from six to four. Also, the airport will choose at least two that offer limos, further pressuring companies that have only shuttles in their fleets.
Due to the general passenger count declines of the past four years, coupled with moving eight airlines from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3, the airport will close four baggage carousels in Terminal 1 near two of the limo and shuttle stands. Kichline said that means only four companies could operate with healthy profits.
Bids are due Sept. 1. The Clark County Commission is to pick the winners a month or two later.
Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at email@example.com or 702-387-5290.