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Chris Jones

Travel and Tourism: July Busy Month for McCarran

21 August 2003

The Las Vegas Gaming Wire

LAS VEGAS -- Bolstered by double-digit percentage increases in passenger traffic at three of its top five carriers, McCarran International Airport in July enjoyed one of the busiest months in its 55-year history.

The Clark County Department of Aviation said Tuesday nearly 3.25 million passengers passed through the Las Vegas airport last month, a 6.4 percent improvement from the same month a year ago and a marginal increase over July 2001.

McCarran's busiest carrier, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, led the way with nearly 1.06 million reported arriving and departing passengers, a 13.4 percent from the same period a year ago.

No. 2 America West also saw a surge in its July activity with 584,869 passengers, up 16.7 percent from July 2002, while fifth-place finisher American Airlines saw a 12.8 percent improvement with 202,614 July passengers.

America West spokeswoman Amber Heule said strong passenger traffic during this year's second quarter allowed the Tempe, Ariz.-based carrier to increase in June and July its existing service between Las Vegas and eight cities, as well as add new nonstop service between McCarran and Spokane, Wash. Those increases helped fuel the airline's July surge, she said.

Airport spokeswoman Hilarie Grey said July was McCarran's fifth-busiest month ever, a result she attributed to this year's three-day Independence Day weekend as well as a likely post-war rebound in the U.S. travel industry.

Overall, domestic air traffic was up 0.5 percent in July, according to a report released Tuesday by the Air Transportation Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that monitors the activities of 14 major U.S. passenger carriers.

At McCarran, several leading international carriers also reported strong months, including Virgin Atlantic (7,276 passengers, up 16.9 percent); AeroMexico (8,585 passengers, up 41.2 percent); and Air Canada (10,346 passengers, up 19.6 percent). Japan Airlines' 4,581 monthly passengers was down 43.3 percent compared with July 2002, though.

Year-to-date, McCarran's seven-month total of 20.9 million passengers was 2.6 percent better than last year's reported 20.4 million total. However, this year's activity was still more than 4 percent below 2001 levels.

Through July, domestic air traffic, measured by revenue passenger miles, was off 2.4 percent compared with the first seven months of last year, the Air Transportation Association said.