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Benjamin Spillman
 

Traffic at McCarran increases

29 June 2007

By Benjamin Spillman

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Nearly 4.2 million passengers hustled through McCarran International Airport in May, an increase of almost 7 percent from the same month last year, and it comes as airline flights nationally are more crowded than ever.

The rise at McCarran was nearly across the board with international airlines and low fare domestic carriers leading the charge. Legacy carriers such as Delta and Continental also posted strong numbers.

The busy month boosted the total number of passengers using McCarran this year to 19.5 million, roughly 4 percent ahead of the pace set in 2006.

Airport spokesman Chris Jones said leisure travel is on the rise with summer heating up and numbers posted by tourist-oriented carriers seem to bear that out.

Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines, for example, hauled more than 54,000 passengers in and out of McCarran for the month, a 399 percent increase from May 2006.

"Four hundred percent growth is nothing to sneeze at," Jones said.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air moved nearly 137,000 passengers through McCarran during the month, a 36 percent increase.

International travel also posted strong gains. Traffic at terminal two, which hosts the bulk of the international flights to and from McCarran, increased almost 27 percent to about 200,000 passengers for the month. For the year terminal two scheduled service is up more than 13 percent to about 911,000 passengers through May.

Southwest, the airport's biggest carrier, showed a modest 4 percent increase from May, 2006. But US Airways, the second largest McCarran carrier, jumped 11 percent.

United, one of three legacy carriers in the top five at McCarran, fell almost 2 percent. Delta increased almost 10 percent and Continental climbed into the fifth spot by posting a 7.5 percent increase.

Nationally airline travel is notoriously cumbersome and crowded this summer. The Wall Street Journal reported the number of flights canceled during the first 15 days of June was up 91 percent from the same period last year.

Labor woes at Northwest Airlines took some of the blame as did summer storms and a computer glitch that wreaked havoc on United Airlines earlier this month. The crowded conditions worsen as airlines pack more people onto every flight, which means that when one flight is delayed or canceled there is little space on other flights to transfer passengers. Many flights are nearly 90 percent full.