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International arrivals power McCarran to strong August

It’s almost become a routine occurrence.

Passenger counts at McCarran International Airport continued to soar in August as 3.7 million people passed through the airport’s gates producing the third-best month of the year for arrivals.

The Clark County Aviation Department on Wednesday announced McCarran’s August count was 3.4 percent greater than the same month a year ago and resulted in a year-to-date pace that is 2.4 percent ahead of the first eight months of 2013 with 28.7 million passengers.

The abundance of international arrivals continued to tell McCarran’s growth story with 304,600 passengers from abroad, a 19.6 percent increase over August 2013.

International arrivals are now tracking 12 percent ahead of last year for the eight months.

Domestic arrivals in Las Vegas are also growing but at a slower pace. For the month, there were 3.3 million domestic arrivals, 2.1 percent ahead of August 2013, resulting in a year-to-date pace of 1.7 percent for eight months.

Of the five leading air carriers serving McCarran, only Delta Air Lines, now the No. 3 operator in Las Vegas, showed a decline in passengers.

Delta is regauging its fleet, meaning that it is using smaller aircraft on the routes it flies.

Delta offers 299 flights a week to and from Las Vegas — 30 more than it had a year ago. But those flights have a capacity of 43,659 seats, 1.3 percent less than a year ago. Passenger counts are down 7 percent to 2.4 million for the first eight months of the year for Delta.

But other domestic carriers are continuing to prosper in Las Vegas.

Market leader Southwest Airlines was up 4.7 percent to 1.5 million passengers in August and No. 2 United was up 7.6 percent to 323,817 for the month.

Passenger counts for Spirit Airlines, which now has nine more flights a week than it did a year ago, climbed 3.2 percent to 195,054 for the month. Over eight months, Spirit’s year-to-date passenger counts are up 14.7 percent to 1.5 million.

Spirit is expected to grow more early next year. The Mirimar, Fla.-based deep discount carrier on Wednesday announced plans to enter the Cleveland market. The airline said it would begin daily nonstop round trips between McCarran and Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport in February.

The major European and Asian carriers serving McCarran had lackluster months, but Latin American and Canadian carriers had double-digit percentage increases.

Aeromexico, Interjet, Copa, Volaris, WestJet and Air Canada showed big increases in August, but British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air had declines.

Edelweiss Air, the Swiss Air subsidiary that began nonstop flights between Zurich, Switzerland, and Las Vegas in May, showed a 35.5 percent increase in passenger counts from July to August, an indication the company’s marketing efforts have taken hold in Europe.

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

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