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Chris Jones

Las Vegas Tourism Numbers Up

26 July 2004

LAS VEGAS -- The first hard indicator of this year's summer travel season took off Friday from McCarran International Airport, and once again, the latest air passenger statistics offered no indication this city's tourism industry is coming back to earth anytime soon.

Passenger traffic at the Las Vegas airport exceeded 3.5 million for the fourth consecutive month in June, increasing 14.2 percent compared with the same month a year ago, the Clark County Aviation Department said.

Through the first half of 2004, McCarran's 20.3 million arriving and departing passenger total was up 15.2 percent from a year ago and remained on pace to top the airport's best 12-month total of nearly 36.9 million passengers in 2000.

"You read all the publications like Time magazine that say Las Vegas is just the hot destination right now," Deputy Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis said of McCarran's recent activity. "The comfort level of sticking in a long weekend is back, and we're happy that we can accommodate those travelers.

"I don't know if we'll stay at double digits for the rest of the year, but we're preparing ourselves for growth."

McCarran's June and year-to-date performances nearly doubled the national averages as monitored by the Air Transport Association, a Washington-based trade organization that tracks 14 major U.S. carriers. The association this week reported enplanements increased by 7.4 percent nationwide in June. In the first half of this year, domestic enplanements increased by 6.2 percent, the association reported.

Each of McCarran's five busiest carriers posted strong gains during the month, led by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines' 1.12 million passengers, up 9.3 percent.

America West ranked second with 592,856 June passengers (up 12.7 percent); United's 269,710 (up 19.8 percent); Delta's 237,241 (up 17.3 percent) and American's 218,747 passengers (up 7.1 percent).

Year-to-date, Southwest's 6.37 million passengers also marked a 9.3 percent improvement from the same period a year ago. America West's 3.33 million passengers this year was 14.4 percent better than the first six months of 2003, while United's 1.57 million count showed a 15.4 percent gain.

Several key foreign carriers also reported strong performances in June. London-based Virgin Atlantic Airways carried 14,104 passengers during the month, up 80.2 percent from a year ago.

Japan Airlines' nearly 8,000 passengers was 67.5 percent better than its June 2003 total, and newcomer Philippine Airlines added 4,700 new passengers through its service to and from Manila by way of Vancouver, British Columbia.