LAS VEGAS – In the wake of coronavirus, McCarran International Airport recorded a 53% year-to-year decrease in passengers for the month of March.
That’s a drop of 2.3 million travelers, according to data McCarran released Thursday.
McCarran’s sinking numbers are the result of COVID-19 travel fallout, an unprecedented shutdown that battered the airline industry, forcing companies to ground planes and passengers to stay home.
Airlines have already dramatically slashed flights because of the plunge in air travel demand, and more cuts are ahead.
Southwest Airlines, the most dominant carrier at McCarran, serviced 1.6 million Las Vegas travelers in March 2019. That number plummeted to 606,650 last month, when the spread of COVID-19 rapidly accelerated across the U.S.
Southwest CEO: Airline will be ‘drastically smaller’ if business doesn’t improve soon
The company said it will just operate 2,000 daily flights in May, more than 40% less than normal levels.
In early April, McCarran shut down all gates at two concourses – B and E – in response to declined air traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To consolidate operations, the Department of Aviation also reduced its on-site workforce.
“As passenger activity has declined,” airport officials said in a statement, “McCarran officials are continually evaluating the airport’s infrastructure and operations to identify ways to maximize efficiencies and implement cost-savings measures.”
And it appears passengers are not itching to fly again anytime soon.
At Delta Air Lines, whose home state of Georgia is among the first to take steps to reopen its economy, bookings remain down and passenger counts are off by 95%.
The only people still flying are those who have to, the carrier said. Delta, one of the largest airlines in the world, was set to carry just 30,000 passengers Wednesday, compared with 550,000 a year ago. It has parked more than 650 planes.
At McCarran, Delta recorded a passenger slump of 55% in March, a drop of about 250,000 travelers compared to last year’s data.
Contributing: Curtis Tate, Chris Woodyard, Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.
This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Coronavirus: Las Vegas airport sees 53% fewer passengers in March