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Chris Jones

Passenger Totals: McCarran Sets Monthly Traffic Record

21 April 2004

LAS VEGAS -- McCarran International Airport, seeing evidence of a public that is increasingly willing to travel, recorded its best-ever month in March with more than 3.6 million arriving and departing travelers.

The airport's previous best total was 3.54 million passengers in March 2001.

Data released Tuesday by the Clark County Aviation Department showed passenger activity at the nation's seventh-busiest airport was up 16.1 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

In addition to normal Las Vegas calendar attractions such as the NCAA men's basketball tournament, spring break and warm weather, the city also benefited from a busy convention schedule that included no huge shows but multiple small- and midsize events such as the 38,000-attendee Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

At nearly 9.7 million passengers, McCarran's year-to-date pace was also 11.9 percent better than the 8.65 million travelers it reported during the first three months of 2003.

"The upward trend is continuing as expected," airport spokeswoman Debbie Millett said Tuesday. Multiple industry experts have recently cited improving U.S. and foreign economies and the release of pent-up demand as factors in the travel industry's recent revival.

Millett added March was also the airport's busiest taxicab month ever with 273,263 pickups. In addition, March 18 was its busiest cab day ever with more than 12,000 reported passenger pickups.

The monthly performance was a marked turnaround from March 2003, when McCarran suffered its largest monthly downturn of that year when traffic dipped by 2.3 percent. That decline was largely caused by the start of the Iraqi war and Asia's outbreak of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines again set the pace with nearly 1.13 million March passengers, up 13.2 percent compared with March 2003. Year-to-date, Southwest's more than 3 million passengers was up 6.2 percent versus its year-ago total.

America West continued its 2004 surge with 579,913 monthly passengers, an improvement of 11.9 percent. Thanks to recent service additions, the Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier's local traffic count was nearly 1.6 million through March, up 14.5 percent.

United Airlines' 264,672 March passengers was an 8.9 percent improvement from a year ago, when it cut back its global operations, including some flights between Las Vegas and San Francisco, due to war-related reductions in traveler demand.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines rounded out McCarran's top five carriers in March with 253,727 and 227,995 passengers, respectively. Delta's monthly total was up 13 percent compared with March 2003, while American's count was up 8.2 percent.

United, Delta and American each reported year-to-date traffic improvements.