Things are looking up at Harry Reid Airport: Travel Weekly

Paul Szydelko

For the second consecutive month, Harry Reid Airport in Las Vegas (formerly McCarran Airport) set a record for passengers served in a single month. More than 4.86 million passengers went through the airport in July, surpassing the previous record of 4.68 million in June.

The July figure is a 17.2% jump over July 2021’s 4.15 million passengers.

“June and July both set records in terms of seats coming into market,” said Joseph Rajchel, the airport’s public information administrator. “Obviously there was belief that the demand was here for Las Vegas with more seats coming in than ever before and … that was then rewarded with those seats being filled with passengers.”

Through July, more than 29.1 million passengers have either arrived or departed Reid Airport in 2022, a 45.1% jump over the same period last year, when many international restrictions were still in place.

About 256,000 international passengers passed through Reid Airport in July, up almost 300% from last July but still down from July 2019’s 335,000. Through July this year, there have been a little less than 1.3 million international passengers, down from 2.2 million through the same period in 2019.

“That is a big piece of our puzzle, getting those international numbers back to where they were prepandemic,” Rajchel said, noting that different countries’ continuing restrictions and limitations are still hurdles.

“We’re still continuing to recover that market,” he said. “But in terms of the actual service, we recovered almost 100% of the offerings that we had prior to the pandemic. The routes are coming back. [We’re] just still waiting for those passenger numbers to get back to those 2019 levels.”

August also set another record of seats into the Las Vegas market, Rajchel said, although passenger counts for that month are not yet available. Labor Day weekend’s activity perhaps portends a busy fall.

“Nationwide, Labor Day weekend went above 2019 numbers, but I can’t say for sure that was the case here,” Rajchel said. “It was busy. We know people were traveling, the parking garages were reaching capacity throughout the weekend so lots of people traveling here, and also it’s a good opportunity for locals to get out one last time as the school year starts.”

Reid Airport has recovered the best among the world’s 20 largest airports based on percentage of prepandemic seat capacity, according to global travel data provider OAG, which produces a monthly airline frequency and capacity trend statistics report.

“Most of that is driven domestically,” Rajchel said. “We’ve just seen that domestic demand has been incredibly strong. Airlines are finding ways, trying to get more seats here, more opportunities to get people here. We have airlines looking to serve those underserved or not-at-all-served smaller markets and creating those opportunities to get people to Vegas. What we know to be true is, the easier it is to get here, the more likely people are to come.

Spirit Airlines has had a 53.5% jump in passengers for the year through July. More than 3.7 million have flown Spirit through Reid Airport during those first seven months, compared with 2.4 million last year. Spirit has about 20 more flights per day this year compared with July 2021, Rajchel said.

Southwest, Spirit, Frontier, Delta and American in that order are the top five airlines serving Las Vegas. Thirty-one airlines currently serve 146 domestic and international markets.

Overall visitation

With meeting and convention attendance steadily returning to normal, Las Vegas welcomed almost 3.5 million visitors in July, its highest monthly visitation since the pandemic began.

That count is up 5.7% from last July and just 5.3% below the July 2019 tally, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s research center.

Hotel occupancy (with 151,352 rooms online) surpassed 83% in July, four percentage points better than July 2021 but still down more than seven percentage points from July 2019.

Weekend occupancy exceeded 91%, up three percentage points from the same time last year but down six percentage points from July 2019. Midweek occupancy, a reflection of convention attendance, reached 79%, up 4.5 percentage points from the same month last year but 9.6 percentage points below where it was in July 2019.

The average daily room rate exceeded $160, 5.5% ahead of last July.

High-profile sports events such as UFC 276 at T-Mobile Arena and the Chelsea versus Club America and Real Madrid versus Barcelona soccer matches at Allegiant Stadium propelled visitation numbers. Usher also began his residency, “My Way,” at Dolby Live at Park MGM in July.

About 307,000 attended conventions, which included Las Vegas Market at the World Market Center, Cosmoprof at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the American Culinary Federation at Caesars Forum. Convention attendance was up 95% from last year, when many restrictions were still in place but still down significantly, 38.4%, from pre-Covid 2019.

Gaming win

The state’s casinos won more than $1 billion for a record 17th straight month in July. Before this streak, Nevada casinos had never won at least $1 billion in more than seven consecutive months.

July’s $1.3 billion win was the fourth-highest total for a month all-time, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

“Demand for gaming still remains strong, customers continue to display resiliency, and leisure travel continues to benefit from a very jam-packed event calendar,” said Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the board.

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