LAS VEGAS — More than 3.5 million passengers came through McCarran International Airport in May, an increase of more than 600,000 over last month — an increase of 21%.

The continuing growth in air passenger traffic is more evidence of a recovery from the pandemic.

At the same time, it shows how far tourism has to go to get back to levels seen in 2019. Domestic air passengers are still down 23.3% from 2019 for the month of May, with domestic passengers down 17.9% and international passengers still down 85.1%

The numbers released Friday came from according the Clark County Department of Aviation.

Here’s a look at passenger numbers over the past eight months:

  • October: 1,981,310
  • November: 1,806,909
  • December: 1,669,768
  • January: 1,505,422
  • February: 1,614,130
  • March: 2,575,582
  • April: 2,906,866
  • May: 3,518,330

The 3.5 million travelers in May, however, is a roughly 23% decrease from the more than 4.5 million seen in May 2019.

For the year-to-date, McCarran has received more than 12 million passengers, a 41% drop from 2019, which saw 20.7 million.

Southwest Airlines continues to lead the pack, with 1.2 million passengers — about three times as many as second-ranked Spirit Airlines, which had just over 400,000 passengers.

Southwest was still 19.8% under passenger numbers recorded in 2019.

While the valley’s tourism economy is revving up, most of the activity has been from people driving in from California and other states.

The economic recovery that is still just barely beginning is in convention business, which means mid-week business for hotels, plus a steady stream of air passengers.

And uncertainty in international tourism is also far below 2019 levels.