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This airline’s first red-eye flights will come to Las Vegas

Updated March 25, 2024 - 4:16 pm

When Southwest Airlines introduces late-night flights in a couple of years, Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport will be one of the first on the list.

Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Ryan Green said at an air travel conference last week that when late-night flights — known in the industry as “red-eyes” — start, Hawaii and Las Vegas would be the first airports to get them, The Washington Post reported.

“We’ve previously shared plans to start overnight flying as we look to increase revenue while providing additional service to our customers,” a Southwest representative said in an email to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Before these flights can begin, there’s a wide range of work that needs to be completed which is anticipated to take place over the next few years.”

The move is believed to be in connection with the Dallas-based airline’s plan to grow at a time when Boeing Corp. has announced that its aircraft deliveries to Southwest have been slowed.

In November, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan hinted that late-night flying was being explored as an evolution of the airline, which is Reid International’s busiest commercial air carrier.

“We don’t have any other specifics to share except our plans to offer these types of flights in leisure markets where they would make sense for our customers and in places where Southwest has a large presence such as Hawaii and Las Vegas,” the company said.

Green said at last week’s conference that Southwest may provide up to 50 late-night flights a day. The Las Vegas flights would be departing Reid airport.

Late-night flying is beneficial to the airline because it can use its existing fleet of aircraft for longer hours. It can be beneficial to customers because late-night flights are generally sold at lower rates than most other tickets.

West-to-east late-night flying is popular because passengers from western destinations can arrive in the early morning on the East Coast for breakfast meetings.

Southwest never started late-night flying early in its operation because its reservation system didn’t have the capacity to do it. But the airline has upgraded its reservation system and is now capable of offering them.

When America West Airlines, a predecessor to what is now American Airlines, operated between 1981 and 2007, it used the Las Vegas airport, then known as McCarran International, as a “night hub” for late-night flying. Most of America West’s flights left Las Vegas after 9 p.m.

This month, Southwest said Las Vegas could be one of the cities affected by Boeing’s inability to deliver 737-7 and 737-8 MAX jets as scheduled. Instead of 79 MAX jets to be delivered in the next few years, Boeing adjusted its delivery to 46 planes.

Representatives of Reid International did not respond to an inquiry about how Southwest’s plans would affect airport operations.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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