The April passenger count at McCarran International Airport provided little encouragement for a tourism industry showing meager growth.
The 3.55 million people who flew in and out of Las Vegas during the month marked a 0.2 percent decline from last year. This fits what has become the ongoing pattern, with nine of the past 12 months showing diminished activity, but in five of those months the change ran less than 1 percent.
For the first four months of 2013, the 13.3 million air travelers marked a 1.1 percent decline. The total visitor count compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority dipped 0.6 percent in the quarter ended March 31, tracking McCarran’s performance.
Perhaps as important, the authority’s marketing surveys have consistently shown that people who fly in tend to stay longer and spend more than those who drive.
Among the large airlines, American continued to show the strongest growth as it nears the end of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, with its passenger count rising 12.8 percent. This came as a result of American scheduling more flights, using larger planes and selling a higher percentage of the seats, according to airport statistics.
Market leader Southwest and its subsidiary AirTran rose 3.8 percent, largely due to installing an extra row of seats on each Southwest plane and flying a new, larger model of the Boeing 737 on some routes.
AirTran, meanwhile, continues to shrink and will disappear at an undisclosed date, in line with the practice Southwest has followed elsewhere.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant, which grew at an aggressive clip for several years to rank among the top five airlines at McCarran, dropped 9.8 percent. Not only has Allegiant trimmed its flights this year, its busy Easter period fell in March this year, drawing vacation traffic that fell in April last year.
Overall, domestic traffic dropped 0.7 percent.
International passengers continued the growth that has continued for several years, up 3.8 percent. This resulted from a mixed bag among individual airlines, with some including British Airways, Korean Airlines, Air Canada and Westjet boosting their totals, while AeroMexico, Virgin Atlantic and charter carrier Omni Air International going down.
The airline schedules for the next three months show the potential for an uptick in passenger counts, with the number of seats projected to grow from 1.5 percent to 3.2 percent. By contrast, April’s count fell 0.6 percent, in line with the passenger results.
Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at email@example.com or 702-387-5290.