LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Air travel is making its comeback, with nearly a million more people coming through McCarran International Airport in March compared to February.
That’s a 59.5% increase in passenger traffic, according to figures provided by the airport. The vault forward comes after McCarran traffic increased by 7% in February compared to January.
Before that, passenger numbers had fallen steadily since October as a “pause” order kept air travel down. That pause came as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic — the most deadly period for the disease — set in beginning in November. But with lower case numbers and vaccinations that began early this year, airports are getting busy again.
A look at passenger numbers over the past six 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
Starting in March, comparisons to numbers from 2020 take on a completely new context, as the travel opens up this year while it was shutting down a year ago. April’s numbers will start to show enormous differences compared to the shutdown.
March showed a 24.7% increase over March 2020 — which indicates there’s still plenty of room to grow, since air travel stopped about halfway through the month last year. Year-to-date comparisons show that passenger levels are down 43.5% compared to last year at this time.
And McCarran’s report shows that international travel still has a long way to go — down 86.6% compared to March 2020.
Numbers for McCarran’s top five carriers show the strongest gains since the pandemic began.
Southwest Airlines led in passenger counts, with 892,517 — a jump of nearly 360,000 passengers (67.5%) over February, when 24,000 additional passengers were reported. Spirit carried 93,622 more passengers (39.8%) compared to February. American Airlines saw passenger counts jump by 70%, with Delta up 41.9% from February and Frontier more than doubling its McCarran passengers.