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As Americans are growing more concerned about getting on a plane because of nationwide increases in COVID-19 cases and Nevada casinos implementing a state-mandated mask requirement for patrons, flight schedules will be increasing at McCarran International Airport in the coming months prompted by the reopening of the casinos June 4. 

American Airlines announced Friday that it’s resuming full-capacity flights across the country on Wednesday. Passengers will be notified when planes are full and give them a chance to switch to a less crowded flight at no cost through the end of September. 

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Southwest Airlines, the leading airline operating at McCarran, will see the largest jump in summer service, averaging 156 daily arrivals in August compared to 87 in May. Similarly, Delta Air Lines will increase from an average of 10 arrivals a day in May to 32 in August, the airport announced. 

Delta Air Lines will return daily service from a variety of markets including Boston, Cincinnati and New York. 

Beginning in August, JetBlue will launch new, twice-daily service between McCarran and Newark Liberty International Airport. 

“Concerns about contracting COVID-19 have risen back up, but a majority of American travelers still plan to travel in this environment — even taking multiple trips in the remainder of this year,” according to a report from California-based Destination Analysts. 

At the lowest point of travel during the pandemic, McCarran saw only 110 scheduled arrivals for a single day. In May, the top 10 domestic carriers at McCarran combined to average 145 scheduled arrivals per day. In June that total rose to nearly 200, and in July it will be in excess of 280 per day. By August, scheduled daily air arrivals into Las Vegas is slated to increase to more than 330. This increase in scheduling will continue to expand access from across the nation. Currently, 55 markets have nonstop service into Las Vegas, officials said. 

“McCarran International Airport is at the forefront of the Las Vegas comeback story,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County Director of Aviation. “The significant investment in increased scheduling shows the confidence our airline partners have in travelers’ demand to return to our incredible destination, and it underscores the hard work being done to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 here at the airport.” 

The increases come at a time, however, that Americans are growing more concerned about getting on a plane to take a trip because of the spike in coronavirus cases across the country, according to surveys. Effective today, Nevada requires everyone to wear masks indoors in public, including casinos. Experts said that could make people feel more comfortable to travel to Las Vegas. 

“Americans’ perceived safety of various travel activities also worsened this week, returning to levels they were three weeks ago, and this has caused some to reverse their travel readiness,” according to a survey from Destination Analysts. “However, the increase in outbreaks has not appeared to further rattle their sense of financial security, as concerns about the virus’ impact on their personal finances and the national economy decreased. Baby Boomers do not feel as threatened by the virus in terms of their personal finances, but have graver concerns about its effect on the national economy.” 

Air travel will be key for Las Vegas’ recovery because the market can’t rely on drive-in traffic to rebound. Airlines are giving travelers more options. 

Frontier Airlines will see significant increases in service from Denver, Miami and various California markets, the airport announced. 

In July, Spirit Airlines will bring back daily service from Tampa, Philadelphia and Columbus. Select foreign markets in Canada and Mexico will also return in late June and early July. 

These increases account for both the restoration of services previously in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a few new routes being brought online. The return of long-haul flights is a significant indicator of passengers’ renewed confidence in air travel, airport officials said. 

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reports more than 230 hotels will reopen during June. Before the end of July, properties accounting for 125,000 total local guest rooms are expected to be open out of the 150,000 in the marketplace, LVCVA officials said. 

“The reopening of Las Vegas was stronger than we expected,” said Steve Hill, CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in a statement. “We greatly appreciate our airline partners recognizing the demand by investing in increased flights as we continue to open up additional casino-resorts and attractions, and welcome our visitors back.” 

A Dallas carrier launched its first-ever weekly flight from Dallas to Las Vegas June 19th. 

JSX, which sells tickets on a charter-style jet that seats 30 people, said its package starts at $299 per person for a roundtrip flight and has even offered a package to stay at the Wynn Las Vegas Friday and Saturday nights and $50 dining credit starting at $785 per person. 

Frontier Airlines announced it is launching a daily nonstop flight between Long Island and Las Vegas but not until March 18, 2021 — a date that coincides with the start of the NCAA basketball tournament. 

About the Author

Buck Wargo

Buck Wargo is a former journalist with the Los Angeles Times and has been based in Las Vegas as a business, real estate and gaming reporter since 2005.

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