Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
A new charge implemented by struggling airlines could bring a little bad news for Las Vegas tourism, but an airport official say it’s too early to tell.
Several big airlines have added a $10 surcharge for busy days around the holidays, making days that already are expensive to fly a little more costly.
The surcharge will be an additional cost for travelers planning to visit Las Vegas over the holidays. Las Vegas residents could also be hit with the cost when leaving McCarran International Airport.
Last month, airlines added a $10 each-way surcharge for Nov. 29 (the Sunday after Thanksgiving) and Jan. 2 and 3.
Now, FareCompare.com CEO Rick Seaney notes that the same airlines have added 10 more days: Nov. 30; Dec. 19, 26, and 27; March 14, 20, 21, 28; April 11; and May 28.
He said the surcharges were added by Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways.
Las Vegas has reason to hold out hope that the effect will be minimal.
Seaney said holiday fares are still running 15 to 20 percent lower than last year, with prices to bigger cities carrying the biggest discount from a year ago.
And discounters such as Southwest and JetBlue appear to be avoiding the surcharges, he said.
McCarran spokesman Chris Jones said it’s too early to know what effect the surcharge will have on travel at the airport. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority doesn’t release its holiday travel predictions until later in the year.
Southwest is the busiest air carrier at McCarran International Airport, carrying more than 1.3 million of the nearly 3.5 million people who flew through the airport in August.
Traffic at McCarran, the seventh-busiest airport in the nation, has declined in recent months as the economic slump has hit.
The number of passengers through McCarran in August, the most recent month for which numbers have been reported, was down 9.8 percent compared to a year earlier.