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Air service ramping up

Jul 2, 2002 7:33 AM

Just since March, the flight traffic in and out of McCarran International Airport has seen a dramatic rise. For instance, the last few months have seen 12 daily flights and 32 weekly flights added to the schedule, which represent a combination of reinstated (previously suspended) service and brand-new service.

Among the domestic markets that recently received new nonstop service are Raleigh-Durham, Fresno, Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City (America West); Colorado Springs (Allegiant Air); Seattle (National Airlines); and Reno (National Airlines).

In September, Southwest Airlines will begin nonstop service to St. Louis, and in August, National Airlines will reinstate nonstop service to Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

In addition, two airlines are adding Las Vegas routes to their schedule for the first time. At the end of June, Spirit Airlines initiated roundtrip service to Las Vegas from Detroit, and Jet Blue Airlines will begin service to Las Vegas from Long Beach in October, eventually adding up to six flights daily.

Moreover, average daily air seats to Las Vegas decreased by only 1.4 percent (899 seats) during the month of June, the smallest decline in year-to-year air service since Sept. 11.

Helping to lead the recovery is National Airlines, which increased its air seats by 550 (10.1 percent), while Southwest Airlines added 446 (2 percent increase). The other major carriers in the "Big Five" decreased their year-to-year seat count: America West, down 526 seats; United, down 665 seats and American Airlines, down 302 seats.

"During June, 18 carriers increased service, while nine carriers made decreases," said Jason Ader, analyst for Bear Stearns. "The recovery from post 9-11 lows continues to track ahead of our expectations and we believe that if the economy continues to show signs of improvement, that our current estimates could prove conservative."