Las Vegas Sun

December 13, 2018

Currently: 55° — Complete forecast

McCarran hits highest mark yet for annual passenger travel

McCarran Airport

Mikayla Whitmore

People wait to collect luggage in the baggage claim area at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas on Feb. 27, 2017.

Las Vegas’ airport soared to new heights last year as a record number of travelers passed through its gates.

The 48.5 million passengers — arriving and departing — at McCarran International Airport in 2017 marked the busiest year in the airport’s nearly 70-year history. The previous passenger record of 47.7 million was set in 2007.

McCarran saw a 2.2 percent increase over 2016, marking the seventh-straight year-over-year jump.

Additionally, McCarran posted nine all-time-high months, including October’s 4.33 million passengers, the highest single-month passenger volume in airport history.

The year ended on a high note with 3.82 million passengers traveling through the airport in December, a 3.3 percent increase over the same time in 2016.

“McCarran is a nearly $30 billion economic engine and our passenger numbers serve as an indicator of the economic health and well-being of Southern Nevada,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, director of the Clark County Department of Aviation. “It’s always exciting to see record numbers, but I feel this one is rather special for our entire community. We have been cautiously optimistic for many years as our local and national economies have rebounded, and we have worked closely with our federal partners to seamlessly accommodate that growth. This new record is a clear sign of recovery, and it shows that the appeal of Las Vegas remains strong.”

Domestic passenger volume increased by 2.4 percent, accounting for 1 million additional Las Vegas passengers for the year. Southwest Airlines had over 18 million passengers travel to and from Las Vegas on its planes last year, making it the busiest airline at the airport.

There were 3.58 million international passengers in 2017, representing a minuscule 0.4 percent increase over 2016.

Along with airline passenger traffic, ground transportation set a new record with 5.4 million airport pickups by taxis and rideshare companies, up 11.7 percent from 2016 counts.