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McCarran sees 60% increase in airline passenger volume in March

Traveler confidence appears to be rebounding as McCarran International Airport saw a 60 percent increase in passenger volume from February to March.

Las Vegas’ airport saw 2.6 million passengers last month, a 25 percent increase over March 2020’s 2 million passengers and a 60 percent increase over February’s 1.6 million, according to data released Monday by the Clark County Department of Aviation.

The total marks the first year-over-year increase in passenger numbers in a year, following record-low travel numbers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The increase comes as Las Vegas continues to loosen COVID-19 restrictions and more people are being vaccinated.

With resorts along the Las Vegas Strip shutting down for 78 days starting in mid-March last year, the usually reliable year-to-year passenger comparison isn’t the strongest indicator of the direction the industry is heading, according to McCarran officials.

“Historically, we have pointed to the year-over-year comparisons as the best indicator for travel trends as our passenger profile varied month-to-month with seasonality and depending on which conventions or other events were in town,” said Joe Rajchel, McCarran spokesman, in an email. “However, as we continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the month-over-month comparison is going to provide a better measure of traveler confidence.”

Through March, McCarran has seen 5.7 million arriving and departing travelers, which trails the first four months of 2020’s count of 10.1 million passengers by 44 percent.

Southwest Airlines, McCarran’s busiest carrier, saw 892,517 passengers in March, a 47 percent increase over March 2020 and a 68 percent jump from February’s 532,582 passengers.

Frontier Airlines had the largest month-to-month passenger volume increase, jumping 107 percent from 138,022 travelers in February to 285,537 in March.

Hometown carrier Allegiant Air served 141,943 passengers, up 53 percent from February’s 92,759.

The increase in travelers appears to be spilling over into April as the airport took to its verified Twitter account to alert passengers Monday to prepare for long wait times.

“We’re not kidding when we say the airport is busy,” the tweet read. “Especially when weekend visitors head home on Monday. Make sure to arrive AT LEAST two hours before your flight, and if you have to return a rental car, remember to add time for the shuttle ride.”

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

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