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Benjamin Spillman

McCarran traffic falls again

20 March 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The number of passengers flying in and out of McCarran International Airport fell 15.2 percent in February to about 3 million.

The decline from nearly 3.6 million in February 2008 is roughly equivalent to the number of tourists who visit Las Vegas over two busy weekends.

The top five airlines serving Las Vegas all showed declines, led by US Airways, which posted a 34.5 percent decrease to 394,477 arrivals and departures.

"It is real soft out there right now," said Clark County Aviation Director Randall Walker.

He said the February numbers were misleading because February 2008 had an extra day for leap year.

When adjusted to accommodate the discrepancy, average daily traffic was off by about 12 percent, Walker said.

Still, it wasn't a good month for airlines at McCarran.

Southwest, the dominant carrier, was down 9.3 percent, from 1.3 to 1.2 million. United was down 9 percent to 207,107 arrivals and departures. Delta was down 14.5 percent to 172,517 and American was down 2 percent to 160,793.

One silver lining in the numbers was that the increase in traffic from January to February was greater this year than last, even after adjusting for the leap year.

This year, February traffic was up 11.3 percent compared to January. Last year, air traffic rose 6.9 percent between January and February.

Walker said the number of available international seats coming into McCarran in March is up 2 percent. But that statistic doesn't measure how many of those seats will be filled by paying passengers.

For the first two months of the year, traffic is down 15.4 percent from the 2008 pace, with 6 million arrivals and departures through February.