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Passenger counts at McCarran begin ‘15 with steady ascent

Passenger counts at McCarran International Airport started 2015 the way they left off in 2014 — with a slow and steady climb.

The Clark County Aviation Department reported Thursday that 3.3 million passengers passed through McCarran’s gates in January, a 0.3 percent increase over the same month a year earlier.

And the growth patterns continue to mimic 2014 with international traffic taking the lead and domestic traffic higher, but not significantly higher.

It was the 17th straight month of increases at McCarran with all but two of the months showing gains of less than 4 percent.

Market leader Southwest Airlines showed a healthy 3.2 percent increase in passengers to 1.3 million. The biggest percentage gainers were Denver-based Frontier Airlines, up 35.7 percent to 62,296 passengers; JetBlue, up 30.5 percent to 79,363; Alaska Airlines, up 18.6 percent to 110,368; and Virgin America, up 10.2 percent to 68,384.

Double-digit percentage declines were reported by US Airways, which is still operating on a separate certificate while executives complete its merger with American Airlines, down 13.5 percent to 136,812 passengers. Other declines were reported by Sun Country, down 12 percent to 15,038; and Delta Air Lines, off 10.8 percent to 273,776 as a result of reducing the size of the planes it uses on Las Vegas flights.

On the international side, Mexican and Canadian carriers continued to show strong performances that resulted in international traffic being up 4.5 percent to 251,909 passengers.

Double-digit percentage increases were shown by Volaris (up 36.2 percent to 19,948 passengers), Interjet (up 28.5 percent to 5,881), Air Canada (up 18.8 percent to 53,901) and Magnicharters (up 17.7 percent to 2,013).

The strong international and domestic performances were offset by a steep decline at McCarran’s westside charter and helicopter terminals. Traffic was down 14.6 percent to 56,481 passengers, primarily due to the March shutdown of Heli-USA.

Rodeo and holiday traffic apparently trumped January convention traffic at the airport.

McCarran’s 3.3 million passengers in January were 1.8 percent fewer than the 3.4 million using the airport in December.

The National Finals Rodeo attracted thousands of visitors in early December and locals greeted family and friends or left to visit them later in the month at Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

January, generally a big convention month for Las Vegas, saw the arrival of record attendance at the International Consumer Electronics Show early in the month.

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

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