McCarran traffic shatters 4 million mark in July

McCarran International Airport had its largest post-recession month-over-month passenger percentage increase in July, breaking the 4 million barrier for the first time in more than seven years.

The Clark County Department of Aviation reported Friday that 4.1 million passengers used the airport last month, an 8.8 percent increase over July 2014.

You would have to go back to 2004 when Las Vegas began riding the “What happens here, stays here” advertising wave for higher percentage increases for passengers at the airport.

Domestic air travel was up 9 percent, and international traffic climbed 6 percent for the month, as every category from legacy carrier to deep discounter contributed to the growth.

It was the first time since March 2008 that McCarran surpassed 4 million passengers in one month. In the airport’s biggest year, 2007, 4 million passengers was topped in six months, including the record 4.3 million in August of that year.

McCarran officials attribute the domestic growth to confidence in the market resulting in airline increases in operations, new destinations or larger aircraft on routes from several carriers.

Double-digit percentage increases in passengers by domestic carriers were the rule instead the exception for most airlines during the month.

Among McCarran’s top five carriers, Delta Air Lines showed an 18.9 percent increase to 348,513 passengers, American Airlines was up 11.2 percent to 249,932, and Spirit Airlines soared 34.9 percent to 257,769.

Market leader Southwest Airlines had a healthy 7.9 percent increase to 1.6 million passengers.

Frontier Airlines, transitioning to a deep-discount business model, was up 169.1 percent to 128,277 passengers for the month, and that is only expected to go higher in October when the Denver-based airline expands its routes to Las Vegas again.

International carriers also had strong numbers with six out of 15 having double-digit percentage growth for the month. The standouts were Switzerland-based Edelweiss, up 84.9 percent to 6,140 passengers; Korean Airlines, up 32.6 percent to 8,081; and Thomas Cook, up 68.9 percent to 8,840.

A 24.3 percent drop in passengers on Panama-based Copa Airlines was attributed to a slipping Latin American economy.

Among the largest international carriers, British Airways was up 3.7 percent to 24,978, Virgin Atlantic was down 3.2 percent to 26,863, Air Canada climbed 10.1 percent to 54,028, and Canadian discounter WestJet was flat at 87,472.

For the first seven months of 2015, McCarran passenger counts are up 4.5 percent to 26.1 million passengers.

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

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