A section of McCarran International Airport’s Concourse D mothballed three years ago as airline traffic declined will soon come back to life as part of a broader gate shuffle.
On Tuesday, the Clark County Board of Commissioners without comment authorized airport management to spend as much as $1 million to move American Airlines from the terminal’s southwest wing to the end of the southeast wing. This will largely return American to where it was prior to taking six gates in the southeast wing out of service in mid-2009 as a cost-cutting measure.
The 12-gate southwest wing will then be dominated by Delta Air Lines, except for one gate for Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaiian currently has 19 flights a week out of Terminal 2, which will close when the ribbon is cut on the $2.4 billion Terminal 3 on June 27.
Other realignments tied to the opening of Terminal 3 will leave the northeast arm largely bereft of tenants and possibly in line for partial closure, particularly the eight gates on the curved end known as the bell. "Traffic will be sporadic," said Clark County Aviation director Randall Walker. "We have not decided what we will do yet with the bell."
The American move, explained Walker, was prompted by a Delta schedule that includes several red-eye flights to its eastern hubs plus a bank of departures in the early morning. As it stands now, Delta runs out of gates at times and diverts a few flights in the otherwise empty end of the southeast wing, requiring planes to be towed later to its regular gates for departures.
"What we try to do is maximize the efficiency for all of our tenants," Walker said.
After American moves, three gates in the southwest wing will be technically designated as county gates, or swing gates open to any airline. But as a practical matter, say airport officials, they would be used almost entirely by Delta, which has McCarran’s third-busiest schedule at 283 flights a week.
The airport will pay for American’s move, based on invoices the airline submits, because airport management requested it. As a result, the airport will also own any improvements. An airline picks up the tab when it asks for a move, as happened last year when AirTran switched from Concourse D to Concourse B to be next to its new parent, Southwest.
The airport management also continues to work on the terms for changing US Airways’ address from Concourse A, where it is the only remaining airline, to the end of the Concourse D southeast wing. That would put it across the walkway from American, with a swing gate separating the two.
In the northeast wing, Frontier, Alaska, JetBlue and Sun Country will all switch to Terminal 3 around Aug. 1, following last year’s moves by AirTran and Continental to the northwest wing to join forces with the commonly owned United. This leaves the northeast wing only with overflow traffic that Allegiant cannot handle at its five regular gates in the part of the southeast wing that stayed open.
Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at email@example.com or 702-387-5290.