Las Vegas air traffic picks up, but still lags

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Air travel will be the key to Las Vegas’ ultimate recovery, but it’s going to take time for people to feel comfortable getting back on a plane to the city based on the latest traffic report released Tuesday by Las Vegas-based Allegiant Airlines. 

The airline said the reopening of the casino resort corridor is increasing demand but any gains in June will be modest. That matches what a Southwest Airlines official said that with the reopening of casinos that “we’ve seen very modest improvements network wide, which includes Las Vegas.”

Allegiant reported preliminary passenger traffic results for May that showed “material improvement in demand from April lows,” according to Gregory Anderson, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. During the first week of June, Allegiant said it operated 70 percent of its schedule vs. 50 percent of the schedule in May.

“Even with the increases in capacity, we were able to maintain load factors just shy of 50 percent. With Las Vegas casinos opening early June, we expect modest improvements to continue throughout the month,” said Drew Wells, vice president of revenue.

In April, Allegiant had 199 passengers through McCarran International Airport, down 99.8 percent from 100,072 in April 2019.

“I can tell you that Las Vegas and Orlando – which would typically be very strong markets through the spring – have been the toughest of all through the COVID-19 pandemic, with closures of the Strip and Walt Disney World,” said Hilarie Grey, managing director of corporate communications for Allegiant in a statement to Gaming Today. “We’ve seen some of our best demand recently in the panhandle and western side of Florida, as those communities and beaches have reopened. With successful re-openings we’d expect to see the arc of bookings for Las Vegas and Orlando to change as well.” 

Overall passenger traffic at McCarran fell 96.4 percent in April. Southwest Airlines is the No. 1 operating airline at McCarran. The airline announced in late May that it’s adding more nonstop flights from Las Vegas in the last two months of 2020 and early 2021. 

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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