Las Vegas Sun

October 13, 2019

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Las Vegas airport can handle 10 million more passengers, official says

Planes Take Off From McCarran

Steve Marcus

A Delta passenger jet takes off from McCarran International Airport June 5, 2017.

McCarran International Airport is prepared to handle another 10 million passengers a year, although the region would need to add about 30,000 hotel rooms to accommodate that many tourists, the director of the Clark County Department of Aviation said.

“We feel that we can easily accommodate 60 million passengers going in and out,” Rosemary Vassiliadis said during a Henderson Chamber of Commerce event Thursday at the M Resort. Today, the airport sees about 50 million passengers a year, she said.

Vassiliadis did not estimate how long it might take to reach 60 million.

But the area is about 30,000 hotel rooms short of being able to accommodate that many visitors, Vassiliadis said. “Everything goes back to hotel rooms,” she said.

Right now, Clark County — excluding Laughlin and Mesquite — has just over 149,000 hotel rooms, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. That number is expected to increase by about 12,000 rooms by 2023.

The department is also continuing to pursue plans for a second major airport in the region, but that is still more than 15 years away, Vassiliadis said.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration, Bureau of Land Management and the Aviation Department signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct an environmental impact study for an airport at a 6,500 acre site known as Ivanpah south of Las Vegas.

“We started working on this in the early 2000s and it takes forever,” Vassiliadis said. “Ivanpah — if everything goes perfectly — we feel we could be operational in 2035. We feel that’s very realistic.”