McCarran reports largest monthly passenger jump since August

Passenger counts continue to soar at McCarran International Airport as the Clark County Aviation Department on Thursday reported the fifth-best February on record and the largest monthly percentage increase in passengers since August.

The airport that serves Las Vegas reported 3.2 million passengers in February, a 2.9 percent increase over the previous year.

Domestic air traffic showed signs of improvement.

In recent months, international traffic has increased by double-digit percentages. In February, international was up 7.1 percent to 243,407 passengers, but domestic, which lately has shown just minor year-over-year growth in previous months, climbed 2.9 percent to 2.9 million passengers.

And, for the first time in months, all of the top five domestic air carriers at McCarran had increases in passengers over the same month a year ago.

No. 4 American Airlines showed the biggest increase at 8 percent to 216,514 passengers. American had only four flights more per week than in February 2014, but capacity has increased by 8.2 percent, an indication the airline is switching to larger aircraft in its merger with US Airways.

McCarran is still counting US Airways passengers separately from American Airlines in its statistics.

Market leader Southwest Airlines showed a 4.5 percent increase to 1.2 million passengers for the month while deep-discounter Spirit Airlines, McCarran’s fifth-busiest carrier, was up 7.5 percent to 176,230 passengers to the market.

No. 2 United Airlines was up 1 percent to 276,994 passengers and No. 3 Delta Air Lines climbed 2.4 percent to 260,343.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, now the No. 6 carrier at McCarran, showed a 1.5 percent decline in passengers to 162,156.

Among international airlines, Mexican carriers showed double-digit percentage increases with Interjet and Aeromexico showing the best performances. Vivaaerobus resumed operations in December, and Mexican discounter Volaris was up 3.4 percent to 14,688 passengers.

Air Canada and Korean Air also had double-digit percentage increases for the month, but McCarran’s leading international operator, Canadian discounter WestJet, was off 1.3 percent to 87,773 passengers.

On the European front, British Airways fell 16.7 percent for the month to 18,095 passengers, but Virgin Atlantic was up 5.1 percent to 13,070 passengers.

Panama-based Copa Airlines, one of the big international growth stories of 2014, was down 11.6 percent to 10,421 passengers in February.

Westside and helicopter terminal numbers were down 9.2 percent for the month. The decline is attributed to downturns for Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Airways and Sundance Helicopters and Heli USA ceasing operations in March 2014.

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

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