Las Vegas International Showing Strong Passenger Recovery


Hard hit Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (eventually to be renamed Harry Reid International Airport) is recovering nicely these days and has the numbers to prove it. Releasing its March number on Monday, the airport proudly boasted handling nearly one million more passengers in March compared to February.

Las Vegas as a city has plans to be fully reopened by June 1st, slowly ramping up from 80% capacity limits during the month of May. Photo: McCarran International Airport

With non-essential, leisure-based travel being hit the hardest in the global health crisis, Las Vegas as a holiday destination suffered greatly. Now, with vaccine efforts continuing to make significant progress, Las Vegas is slowly opening up again and welcoming the country with open arms.

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A look at McCarran’s latest passenger numbers

The biggest news for Los Vegas McCarran International Airport is its month-over-month increase of one million passengers. March 2021 saw 2,527,062 travelers pass through the airport’s Terminals 1 and 3, while the previous month saw 1,576,494. This represents an increase of 60.3%.

While it’s not a full recovery by any means, it’s still something to celebrate. The airport’s year-to-date (YTD) count by the end of March was at 5,576,410. Comparing the same timeframe for the previous year, the airport had already handled 9,882,733 travelers, a drop of -43.6%.

From WestJet to British Airways to even Hainan Airlines, McCarran would see a wide range of international carriers during ‘normal times.’ Photo: McCarran International Airport

If we break down numbers for domestic/international travel, comparing YTD 2021 and YTD 2020, domestic travel is down by 39.8%, while international is hurting far worse, down by 93.2%. Comparing between February 2021 and March 2021, domestic travel is up by 60% and accounts for a whopping 99% of all travel. International travel makes up the rest. While it’s still a tiny fraction of what it should be, international travel has more than doubled from February to March, a sign that things are moving in the right direction.


Which airlines are serving Las Vegas the most?

It was around mid-March 2020 that businesses began shutting down in Las Vegas. This was soon followed by a state-wide shutdown days later, on March 19th. Therefore, comparing March 2021 numbers with March 2020 numbers should give us a good idea of how things are recovering. Here’s what the numbers have to say:

  • Southwest: 892,517 handled in March 2021, up from 606,650 in March 2020. An increase of 47.1%.
  • Spirit328,310 handled in March 2021, up from 263,768 in March 2020. An increase of 24.5%.
  • Frontier285,537 handled in March 2021, up from 178,153 in March 2020. An increase of 60.3%.
  • American: 275,684 handled in March 2021, up from 189,426 in March 2020. An increase of 45.5%.
  • Delta: 216,775 handled in March 2021, up from 206,919 in March 2020. An increase of 4.8%.
American Airlines served 45.5% more passengers in March 2021 than it did in March 2020, when much of the city was shut down later in the month. Photo: McCarran International Airport

Las Vegas continues to reopen

Las Vegas has been steadily reopening its economy in recent months. The Los Angeles Times notes that restaurants, bars, retailers, and gaming floors were allowed to increase their capacities to 50% from 35% as of March 15th. On May 1st, the plan is for that number to increase again to 80%. The governor of Nevada has yet the goal of fully reopening for June 1st.


Largely made possible with increasing numbers of vaccinations, authorities hope that casino employee vaccinations will allow for increases in capacity in those facilities.

Is Las Vegas on your list of destinations to visit? Let us know in the comments.