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McCarran passenger tally up 4 percent for quarter

Nearly 4.2 million passengers used McCarran International Airport in March, up 3.3 percent from the same month in 2006, Clark County officials reported.

The traffic brought overall traffic at McCarran to nearly 11.3 million passengers during the first quarter, up 4 percent from the pace set in 2006 when there were 46.2 million passenger arrivals and departures.

The first-quarter results leave McCarran slightly ahead of its 2007 projection of a 3.5 percent increase, which equates to about 47.9 million arrivals and departures.

But it is too early to tell whether traffic will maintain the increased pace all year. Unpredictable events such as flight-canceling bad weather in a feeder market for Las Vegas, especially if it were to occur on a holiday weekend, can affect traffic at McCarran.

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines maintained its position as the top airline at McCarran, moving nearly 1.4 million passengers in March and nearly 3.8 million in the quarter. Both figures represented about a 2 percent increase over Southwest’s Las Vegas performance in 2006.

US Airways, the second-largest carrier at McCarran, posted the largest percentage increases for the month and the quarter. The airline had a 19.2 percent increase in passenger traffic in March to more than 896,000 arrivals and departures and a nearly 25 percent increase for the quarter to 2.5 million.

The percentage increase, however, was mainly attributed to a change in the way the airline’s traffic is reported. The reporting change, which occurred in March, consolidates US Airways traffic with reports from America West. The two carriers merged in 2005.

“We haven’t added much in the way of new destinations or frequency out of Las Vegas except for a few regional or feeder flights,” said US Airways spokesman Morgan Durrant.

Delta was the only legacy carrier among the top five McCarran airlines to post an increase in March. The airline, which formally emerged from bankruptcy on Monday, reported more than 224,000 arrivals and departures from Las Vegas, a 4.6 percent increase from the same month in 2006.

Scheduled traffic at Terminal 2, which is mostly international flights, increased almost 9 percent during the first quarter to more than 520,000.

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