McCarran International Airport Traffic Increases in 2019, But Many Not Staying in Las Vegas

Posted on: December 30, 2019, 10:13h. 

Last updated on: December 30, 2019, 12:14h.

McCarran International Airport has seen a substantial increase in passenger traffic this year. But not all who arrive at the busy Southern Nevada airport are staying in Las Vegas.

McCarran International Airport Las Vegas
McCarran International Airport was busy in 2019, but that didn’t necessarily correlate to better house wins. (Image: Flickr)

Through November, nearly 47.3 million passengers have arrived and departed through McCarran International. That’s a 3.4 percent year-to-date gain, or 1.5 million additional travelers.

Both domestic and international traffic has increased – respectively 3.4 percent and 0.5 percent. While domestic travel still accounts for the vast majority of passengers (42.7 million), airport and Las Vegas tourism officials are focused on the international guest.

International travelers tend to stay longer and spend more money,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Vice President of Marketing Fletch Brunelle told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Continuously adding nonstop routes that make access to Las Vegas as convenient as possible is incredibly important.”

Through 11 months in 2019, a total of 3.5 million international passengers have come or gone through McCarran. That’s roughly 600,000 more than the same 11 months in 2018.

Leaving Las Vegas

While visitor arrivals are up at McCarran, statistics from the LVCVA reveal not everyone is staying in Sin City. Las Vegas year-to-date visitor volume stands at 39 million people, a small 0.5 percent premium on 2018.

It’s worth noting that McCarran’s passenger traffic includes travelers who are making layovers at the airport. Low-cost carrier Southwest is responsible for around 34 percent of all McCarran passengers. McCarran is one of the airline’s major hubs, and used for numerous connecting routes.

However, the numbers speak for themselves: of the 47.3 million people to arrive or depart at the city’s commercial airport, 8.3 million didn’t stay in Las Vegas. That’s why airport passenger traffic isn’t a solid indicator of gross gaming revenue (GGR).

Over the last 12 months, casino win on the Las Vegas Strip is down 0.5 percent to $6.5 billion.

Internationals Wanted

According to Brunelle, travelers arriving from outside the US spend more than domestic guests.

“The average spend per international visitor per trip is $960, while the domestic counterpart to that number is $790,” Brunelle explained. “We currently welcome more than 44,000 nonstop international seats each week from 24 cities in 10 countries, and adding nonstop international flights is key to growing that lucrative visitor segment.”

In 2019, McCarran added nonstop flights from Paris, Amsterdam, Israel, Germany, and Mexico. In 2016, Hainan Airlines began nonstop service from Beijing. Bookings were so robust that last year the carrier added flights.

American Airlines is currently in the process of obtaining airport slots at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to provide nonstop service from the Tokyo capital to Las Vegas.

“The travel industry drives the economy in this town,” McCarran Chief Marketing Officer Chris Jones said recently. “Having flights, being able to get here conveniently, particularly from new destinations inside or outside the United States, is a great way to make sure we fill the hotel rooms.”