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Airport traffic down 5 percent in April

Passenger counts at McCarran International Airport fell for the third straight month in April, with some of the declines blamed on grounded international flights after ash from a volcano in Iceland shut down airline operations in parts of Europe.

McCarran said Friday the number of arriving and departing passengers in April was 3,384,741, down 5 percent from 3,563,918 in April 2009.

Airport traffic is down 3.9 percent for the year — 12,736,494 million passengers have used the airport this year, compared with 13,254,969 million last year.

Several international carriers lost business for a week because of the volcanic eruption. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic each canceled seven round-trip flights between McCarran and airports in England. Condor canceled two round trips between Las Vegas and Frankfurt.

International travel was down 4.7 percent in April. Virgin passenger traffic was down 21.5 percent from April of last year, while British Airways’ passenger count was down 20.9 percent between April and March. The airline began round-trip service to Las Vegas in October.

Airline officials couldn’t put a number on international travelers who had planned trips into Las Vegas from other domestic locations during April but saw their travel plans halted by the volcano.

Southwest Airlines, the perennial leader in local airport traffic, showed a slight decrease for the month. The Dallas-based carrier served 1,315,853 passengers in April, compared with 1,343,641 in April 2009. For the year, Southwest traffic is down 2.1 percent.

Delta became McCarran’s No. 2 airline in April when it merged with Northwest and began combining passenger counts. The combined airline flew 300,328 passengers during the month, putting the airline about 70,000 passengers ahead of United.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air was the airport’s sixth-busiest flier, serving 171,875 passengers during the month, an 8.8 percent increase from a year ago.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

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