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Chris Jones

McCarran Traffic Climbs 9.4 Percent for November

22 December 2003

A bevy of Thanksgiving travelers provided some holiday stuffing for McCarran International Airport, which enjoyed a 9.4 percent increase in passenger traffic in November.

Last month, the Las Vegas airport handled nearly 2.97 million arriving and departing passengers, the Clark County Department of Aviation said Friday. That total was about 255,000 more local air travelers than were reported during the same month a year ago.

County Aviation Director Randy Walker attributed the growth in part to a busy Thanksgiving period, as well as ongoing improvements in the local aviation industry over the past few months.

"Things have just been strong all over," said Walker, who added this year's November total also benefitted in comparison to a year ago thanks to the Nov. 6, 2002, shutdown of Las Vegas-based National Airlines.

"They were carrying about 7 or 8 percent of our seat capacity at that time, and it took a little bit of time for that capacity to build back up," Walker said of National, which succumbed to financial problems.

Year-to-date, McCarran's passenger total topped 33.3 million, up 3.2 percent from the 32.3 million reported passengers during the first 11 months of last year. Barring an exceptionally slow December, it's likely the airport will this year surpass its 2002 full-year total of about 35 million passengers.

McCarran's best annual passenger total was 36.87 million passengers in 2000, a record that's unlikely to be overcome this year.

Southwest Airlines again led the pack with 937,242 November passengers, up 8.5 percent from a year ago. Through November, the Dallas-based carrier reported nearly 10.8 million local passengers, up 8.9 percent from the same period in 2002.

Tempe, Ariz.-based America West ranked second with 478,473 passengers, a 6.6 percent improvement. Year-to-date, America West's 5.57 million passenger total was up 10.6 percent.

United Airlines finished third with 227,541 November passengers, up 3.5 percent. It was closely followed by Delta Air Lines, which for the second straight month enjoyed a surge in passenger activity thanks in part to the expanded local presence of Song, a low-fare offshoot.

Delta and Song combined for 219,251 November passengers, up 18.9 percent.

American Airlines rounded out the monthly top five with 175,375 passengers, down 3.4 percent.

United, Delta and American each enjoyed single-digit growth in their annual traffic at McCarran.