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August 21, 2017

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Despite November dip, McCarran passenger count nears record highs

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Strip casinos are viewed from inside the new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control facility at McCarran International Airport Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016.

The passenger count dipped in November from a busy October, but 2016 is poised to be one of the best in the history of McCarran International Airport when year-end totals become available.

More than 3.8 million people arrived and departed through the airport in November, a figure indicating a gain of 3.4 percent from the same month in 2015. Despite that uptick, overall travel through McCarran fell below the 4 million passenger mark for the first time in the past seven months.

October’s passenger count of more than 4.2 million passengers represented the most people ever to use McCarran in that month of the year.

For the year, McCarran’s passenger count climbed above 43.7 million with the solid November numbers. At this point last year, just more than 41.7 million people had passed through the airport. Domestic carriers at McCarran report an increase of 5.1 percent, while international airlines are up 2.7 percent.

Among domestic carriers, low-cost Spirit Airlines rolls along as one of the biggest drivers of passenger growth in Las Vegas. The airline continues to expand routes and is up 17.2 percent over 2015 with more than 2.9 million passengers at McCarran in 2016.

Last December, more than 3.6 million people came through the facility, and even a similar number in 2016 would help blow past the 2015 total count. In 2015, the airport served 525,000 flights and 45.4 million passengers — the third-busiest year in the airport’s 67-year history. Those totals ranked McCarran as the eighth-busiest airport in the country in 2015 based on passenger volume.

McCarran’s annual peak came right before the beginning of the recession in 2007 at nearly 48 million passengers.

Overall visitor volume for the year climbed past 39.6 million for the year in November, according to statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, showing modest growth of 1.5 percent from the same point in 2015. More than 6 million of those visitors are convention attendees, bouncing back 7 percent from last year.

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