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McCarran airport’s control tower closure stretches into 5th day

Updated March 23, 2020 - 6:08 pm

Flight operations in Las Vegas will be at reduced levels for a fifth straight day Monday as McCarran International Airport’s air traffic control tower remains closed.

The tower was shuttered following a controller testing positive for COIVD-19 late Wednesday night. The Federal Aviation Administration closed the tower to clean and disinfect it.

Cleaning operations have been completed and the FAA is in the process of employee tracing and evaluation, according to the FAA’s map of its facilities in the U.S. impacted by the novel coronavirus.

Flight operations are being handled by the Las Vegas Terminal Radar Approach Control, operating as the control tower’s backup.

12 flights per hour

McCarran is operating at 12 arriving flights per hour, slightly up from the arrival rate of 10 aircraft an hour that was seen in the first four days of the closure. The arrival rate is still significantly down from the normal rate of 30 to 56 aircraft an hour, according to the FAA.

The first four days of the closure, which included reduced airline schedules because of the pandemic, led to long delays and hundreds of flights being canceled. Around 600 Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled over the past five days, including about 115 of the scheduled 200 departures for Monday, McCarran’s largest carrier said in an email.

The FAA’s website showed delays for flights arriving in Las Vegas were averaging 6 hours and 1 minute Monday morning.

No timetable for opening tower

The FAA didn’t have any new information on the controller who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or if there was a timetable for the tower’s reopening.

Flight restrictions were put into place within a 5-mile radius of McCarran beginning March 19, following the positive test and reduced operations at McCarran, with those restrictions slated to last until Friday, the FAA’s website shows.

Vendors at McCarran began limiting hours amid the decrease in passengers caused by coronavirus concerns, but outlets will be open for passengers, according to Chris Jones, McCarran spokesman.

Crews are also performing increased cleanings, and encouraging social distancing to those in the terminals, Jones said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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