Las Vegas Airport Travel Still in Steep Decline, As Several Casinos Close Midweek

Posted on: December 28, 2020, 03:44h. 

Last updated on: December 28, 2020, 05:13h.

Passenger totals at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas declined by nearly 57 percent in November 2020 compared to the same month last year. This pandemic-related slowdown has had an impact on casinos. Some are closing in the middle of the week because of low demand.

McCarran International Airport
A Las Vegas sign greets travelers at McCarran International Airport south of downtown Las Vegas. Airline travel is down by more than 50 percent at the airport. (Image: Los Angeles Times)

Last month, 1.8 million passengers used the airport, according to totals released Monday by the Clark County Department of Aviation. This figure is down 56.7 percent from the nearly 4.2 million travelers who used Southern Nevada’s main passenger airport during November 2019. That means almost 2.4 million fewer passengers arrived or departed from McCarran this November, compared to last year.

The airlines with the sharpest decline in November this year were Delta, Southwest, and American. Delta saw a 66.4 percent drop-off in passenger totals this November, compared to the same month last year. Southwest and American were down more than 53 percent.

Even with Thanksgiving travel in November, fewer passengers used the Las Vegas airport than in October. This year in October, nearly 2 million passengers used the airport.

The year-to-date totals also are down. During the past year, almost 27 million fewer travelers made their way through McCarran than the pervious year. This is a 56.6 percent decline.  

Because of Las Vegas’ remote desert location, airline travel is seen as important to tourism in Southern Nevada. Two large metropolitan areas, Los Angeles and Phoenix, are at least four hours away by car. 

Casinos Go Dark

When COVID-19 cases began to spike in March, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered casinos to close. He allowed them to reopen June 4. Some opened right away. Others began operating again over time. A small number in Southern Nevada remain closed, including the Main Street Station Casino, Brewery and Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. The Boyd Gaming property is expected to reopen next year.

In response to the tourism slump, some resorts on the Las Vegas Strip are closing either their hotel towers or their entire operations during the slow midweek days.

The Mandalay Bay, Mirage, and Encore at Wynn Las Vegas are among the properties on the Strip experiencing temporary midweek closures because of low consumer demand.

The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, located off the Strip just west of Caesars Palace, is operating at a full schedule through Jan. 3. After that, the property is only taking room reservations from Thursdays through Mondays. The gaming floor will remain open all week, even after Jan. 3.

New Year’s Eve Plans

Because of COVID-19 concerns, New Year’s Eve celebrations are undergoing changes this year in the Las Vegas area.

The annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show on the Las Vegas Strip, which has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, will be conducted virtually this year. Viewers can watch it on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

The Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas is charging a $25 security fee to enter, but will not have live entertainment or fireworks. However, the Plaza Hotel and Casino on downtown’s Main Street will put on a fireworks show from its south tower.