Aviation leaders expect 7.5% increase in passengers through McCarran

9 December 2015

Aviation marketing leaders in Southern Nevada expect a 7.5% increase in passengers in the second quarter of 2016 with growth in domestic and international travelers, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors was told Tuesday.

Airline route development is a key strategy for the LVCVA, which partners with McCarran International Airport to convince airlines to add flights and capacity to the Las Vegas airport. International expansion is the most lucrative for the city because passengers tend to spend more on their visits.

Las Vegas has capitalized on international lift with Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic, Condor, Korean Air and Canada's WestJet adding flights in 2015. Southern Nevada also received a boost when Norwegian Air Shuttle announced nonstop service between Las Vegas and both Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm earlier this year.

Dallas-based Ailevon Pacific Airline Consulting, the LVCVA's new aviation consultant, told the organization's board of directors that domestic counts are expected to climb by 7.8% with a 4.2% increase in international traffic.

Several new routes are expected to come on line in January and April, with Delta Air Lines adding flights to San Jose, Calif. in January and Spirit Airlines adding new nonstop service to and from Seattle, and Southwest adding new nonstops to and from Newark, N.J., in April.

Discount carriers have offered the most substantial domestic growth in 2015 with Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and Spirit showing the most expansion.

McCarran currently has flights to 150 destinations in 10 countries on 31 airlines. One of the marketers' biggest goals now is to secure flights to and from Japan and they've met directly with executives from Japan Airlines and All-Nippon Airlines to entice them to offer flights.

Growing international visitation is a key goal for the authority. In 2014, 7.9 million people traveled to Las Vegas from beyond U.S. borders. Officials said those visitors spent $8.7 billion on lodging, dining, shopping, entertainment, local transportation and gaming. International travelers support 68,500 jobs and $2.7 billion in wages. The board was told that international travelers represented 19% of the city's visitors — a 1%age point decline from the previous year -- in 2015 and 29% of the spending.

More than half of international travelers came from neighboring Canada (31%) and Mexico (21%).

The largest portion of overseas travelers came from Great Britain, 12%, and Australia, 6%, with 4% each coming from Japan, Germany and Brazil.

In other business Tuesday, the board unanimously approved spending $375,000 to sponsor Big League Weekend, with games scheduled at Cashman Field on March 31 and April 1.

The Thursday-Friday series will feature teams from the 2015 National League Championship Series, the Chicago Cubs and the Las Vegas 51s parent team, the New York Mets.

The series is expected to generate $125,000 in revenue.

Because the games will be broadcast in the Chicago and New York markets, Las Vegas expects to generate $1.5 million in media value for the city.

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