Carriers fill void left by National


LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas lost hometown carrier National Airlines, then the third largest carrier at McCarran Airport, but other airlines appear to be filling the gap.

Airport officials noted that at least one carrier, and usually two or more, still are serving the destinations once served by National, which shut down Nov. 6. In addition, some carriers have come in with new service.

The airport's traffic did decline in November. But the volume of passengers -- 2.7 million -- that came through the airport that month still was 6.8% higher than a year earlier, when Las Vegas and the rest of the nation were recovering from the worst of the post-Sept. 11 impact on travel.

Southwest remains by far the biggest carrier at McCarran, by number of passengers and market share. America West is second, followed by United, Delta and American, which has increased its service and moved up to fifth after National's demise.

The most immediate effect on new service from National's shutdown came from JetBlue, which decided to move up its inaugural New York (Kennedy) flight from Jan. 7 to Nov. 15.

JetBlue plans to add a second daily flight from New York on Jan. 7 and add third and fourth flights in February and March. The flights make it America West's lone competitor on the route.

The airport's airline services also are expanding in other ways.

Spirit Airlines, for example, broadened its service to Las Vegas beginning Nov. 14 by adding a daily one-stop service to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; connecting service to Atlantic City, N.J.; and daily connecting service to New York's LaGuardia.

Tango, Air Canada's low-fare carrier, launched daily, nonstop Toronto service Dec. 26.

America West, expanding its considerable presence, also added Toronto service Dec. 26 as well as service to Washington (Dulles), where it will provide some Las Vegas competition for United.

Hawaiian Airlines will introduce nonstop service three days a week from Honolulu starting Jan. 8.

On the other four days of the week, Hawaiian will serve Las Vegas with one-stop service via Ontario, Calif.

Hawaiian's current one-stop service to Las Vegas via Los Angeles will be converted to a daily nonstop between Honolulu and Los Angeles only.

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