Tue, Oct 14, 2008
Carrier's Planned Expansion On Indefinite Hold, Other Airlines
Also Cutting Back
The perennial boom-town mentality of the Las Vegas market is
producing a disagreement between the management of McCarran
International Airport and some airline officials. For years,
airport officials have watched passenger volume rapidly approaching
capacity, and they're now in the middle of a multi-billion-dollar
expansion to accommodate it.
But Southwest Airlines -- which had earlier planned a nearly 50
percent increase in flights to Las Vegas -- now says that
expansion, from 240 daily flights to 350, is on indefinite hold.
Other airlines which have announced capacity cuts have even
specifically targeted markets such as Las Vegas and Orlando for
cuts, because the leisure travel market is particularly
The Associated Press reports passenger traffic at McCarren is
down 4.8 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, and notes airlines
projecting 12-to-15 percent fewer seats into Las Vegas going
But airport planners say that when the economy rebounds, they
must be ready. The expansion currently underway includes a new $2.4
billion international terminal, a new pedestrian bridge, new gates
and a new heliport.
Linda Macey, properties manager for Southwest Airlines, says
airport management needs to slow down. "There is clearly not a
current need for increased capacity," she said.
Macey even appealed to Clark County Commissioners in July to
cancel or delay all upgrades not justified by current needs.
So far, however, the expansion is moving ahead on schedule...
and county officials say they'll be ready to handle 53 million
passengers a year by 2012. Now, they only need to hope all those
folks show up.
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