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Southwest cancels hundreds of flights amid McCarran tower closure

Updated March 24, 2020 - 2:22 pm

The ongoing air traffic control tower closure and passenger decreases tied to the COVID-19 outbreak have significantly impacted McCarran International Airport’s largest carrier.

More than 700 Southwest Airlines flights have been canceled at McCarran since March 19, the first full day the air traffic control tower was shuttered by the Federal Aviation Administration because of a controller testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Part of the mass cancellations for Southwest includes 136 (nearly 68 percent) of the scheduled 201 departures out of Las Vegas on Tuesday, according to Dan Landson, Southwest spokesman.

Aside from the issues seen at McCarran, Southwest announced Tuesday that it will cancel 1,500 of its regularly scheduled 4,000 daily flights starting Friday because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement comes days after Southwest said it would originally eliminate 1,000 flights from its daily flight schedule.

The cancellations will occur until April 14, when the airline will run at a 20 percent route reduction rate through June 5, the airline said in a news release posted to its website.

“As we continue to react to decreased customer demand during this unprecedented time, Southwest now will cancel approximately 1,500 of our almost 4,000 daily flights until our previously revised schedule begins on April 14,” the release reads.

Representatives from Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines, McCarran’s next-largest carriers based off January traffic statistics, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment regarding their possible flight cancellations.

However, in a news release posted to its website, Delta said it plans to park more than 600 aircraft as it moves to respond to the impact to its business from the pandemic.

Specifics about what aircraft may be retired early are expected to be available at a later date, the release said.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air has already cut flight capacity by approximately 15 percent for April and May, which is expected to increase to 30-35 percent with additional reductions to come, the airline said in a news release last week.

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

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