Las Vegas Looking for Airline Partners to Offer More Flights from China to McCarran

Posted on: September 5, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: September 5, 2017, 02:20h.

After Hainan Airlines’ successful launch of nonstop service from Beijing to Las Vegas last December, travel experts and officials at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) are looking to entice other carriers to begin offering nonstop services to McCarran International Airport from China.

Las Vegas airport Chinese Hainan
Airport and convention officials in Las Vegas hope to add additional Chinese carriers to McCarran International Airport terminals. (Image: Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

At the 22nd annual International Aviation Forecast Summit, being held this week in Las Vegas at the Wynn, aviation industry leaders gathered to discuss the future of sky-based travel.

The LVCVA’s efforts were a hot topic, with many interested in the China-US Travel Opportunities Symposium, a special segment of the conference that for three years now has been growing in popularity, especially since China-based Hainan began offering non-stop service to Sin City.

“The program has been very successful,” Mike Boyd, whose Colorado-based aviation consultancy runs the annual conference, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Hainan Airlines likes it. The passengers like it. And we’re gathering anecdotal but valuable information from those passengers.”

Unlike most cities where airports are solely responsible for managing relationships with airlines, in Las Vegas, the LVCVA works collaboratively with the airport.

McCarran experienced its second busiest year in history in 2016, with about 47.4 million passengers moving through its terminals. (Las Vegas saw closer to 48 million visitors arrive by air in 2007.)

The LVCVA is public-private agency tasked with various responsibilities that bring tourists en masse to Las Vegas, and working with the airport and airlines has become increasingly important in their efforts.

Catering to China

Boyd believes most airports are failing to adequately welcome Chinese visitors. McCarran recently unveiled a fountain that dispenses hot water, in what’s surely an olive branch to Chinese passengers who are looking for a warm cup of tea upon arrival to the Nevada desert.

McCarran pays China Ni Hao, a consultancy specializing in best practices for becoming “China ready,” $7,500 a month to continue making recommendations. The water foundation was one such suggestion. 

An estimated 3.5 million Chinese will visit the USA this year, up 1,650 percent compared to a decade ago. More than 109,000 visitors arrived in Las Vegas direct from China, and another 317,000 landed at McCarran via connections.

Due to demand, Hainan Airlines recently upgraded its Las Vegas plane from a from a Boeing 787-8 to 787-9 for the thrice-weekly flights. The new cabin adds nearly 40 more seats for the 12-and-a-half-hour flight across the Pacific.

Global Meet-And-Greet  

Part of the US-China Symposium included a discussion on how cities can develop a tailored outreach program to China. China Ni Hao Principal David Zhou said engaging potential travelers through social media platforms like WeChat is essential to a successful marketing plan.    

LVCVA airline development head Brig Lawson and McCarran Chief Marketing Officer Chris Jones are scheduled to travel to Barcelona later this month to participate in World Routes 2017, a global convention billed as a “meeting place for every airline, airport, and aviation stakeholder.”

It will provide Lawson and Jones an opportunity to meet face-to-face with numerous executives of Asian carriers, as well as heads of US airlines, to begin convincing them Las Vegas should be their next destination.