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Benjamin Spillman

September passenger count increases at McCarran

6 November 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A US Airways pullback from Las Vegas slowed growth at McCarran International Airport in September, but air travel growth in Southern Nevada stayed on record pace for 2007 even with no new resorts opening on the Strip.

About 3.9 million passengers arrived and departed McCarran during the month, up 2.4 percent from September 2006. The airport had been reporting month-over-month increases above 5 percent earlier in the year.

Much of the slowdown was tied to a pullback by US Airways, which cut the number of available seats in the market to about 211,000, down from nearly 254,000 in September 2006.

Despite the drawback, the 36 million arrivals and departures so far this year are 4.6 percent ahead of the pace set in 2006. If the pace continues, more than 48.1 million travelers will have used McCarran by the year's end. Airport officials had expected about 47.8 million in 2007.

McCarran has set arrival and departure records every year since 2004 and will likely do so this year without the aid of a new Strip resort. New Strip properties typically spur new visits.

Southwest remained the largest carrier at McCarran with 1.3 million arrivals and departures on the month, up 7.5 percent from September 2006. It was followed by US Airways which flew fewer than 704,000, a 16 percent decrease, United, Delta and American. Delta and Southwest were the only two airlines in the top five that increased their monthly traffic significantly. United and Us Airways were down and American was flat.

US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant said the September draw down was temporary. Durrant said the airline typically doesn't do well in September with Las Vegas routes so it moved planes to busier routes from places like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia.

"September is when the bottom kind of falls out for that demand, at least for US Airways," said Durrant of the airline's late-night, long-haul trips to and from Las Vegas.