New routes will keep things busy at McCarran

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LAS VEGAS -- Airlift to this city has taken off in recent months and promises to increase in the near future as carriers add Las Vegas to their route structures and airlines with existing Las Vegas service increase the number of flights into and out of McCarran Airport.

The following is a rundown of what's happening on the city's runways:

• As part of America West's 2004 growth plan for a 10% increase in capacity, the carrier has been adding service from various cities in the U.S. and Canada since January.

During that month alone, the carrier -- with the help of several Elvis impersonators -- celebrated service between Las Vegas and nine cities: Los Angeles, Oakland, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose and Sacramento, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Reno, Nev.; and Phoenix.

Last month, the airline began daily nonstop service between Las Vegas and six new markets: Cleveland; Austin, El Paso and San Antonio, Texas; Edmonton, Alberta; and Vancouver.

This month, America West added a flight to its Phoenix service, and on April 23 the airline will new flights to Burbank, Calif., using a 124-seat Airbus A319. Also on April 23, the carrier plans to add one flight each to its Boston and San Francisco routes.

And beginning June 1, the airline will launch daily nonstop service between Las Vegas and Fresno and San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Medford, Ore., and Calgary, Alberta.

At the same time, one nonstop flight will be added between Las Vegas and Santa Barbara, Calif., bringing the total to two daily roundtrip flights on that route.

• Philippine Airlines last month launched service to Las Vegas -- its first destination in the North American interior -- via Vancouver. The new service, which uses 264-seat Airbus A340-300 aircraft, operates four times weekly.

Departures from Manila's Ninoy Aquino Airport are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; the return service leaves Las Vegas on the same days.

The carrier's other U.S. destinations include Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu.

• Like America West, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air is stepping up service to McCarran.

The carrier last month launched nonstop, scheduled service from Peoria, Ill. The new central Illinois service operates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays each week using 161-seat MD-83 aircraft.

Next month, starting May 10, the low-fare carrier will inaugurate scheduled jet service from Baton Rouge, La.

To celebrate the new service, which will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays using 161-seat MD-83 aircraft, the carrier will offer an introductory fare of $89 per person each way through April 17.

The discounted fare is valid for travel through Dec. 31 and is good on Monday and Tuesday departures from Baton Rouge and Thursday and Friday departures from Las Vegas.

A week before the Baton Rouge service begins, on May 3, the carrier will launch Friday and Monday service from Bismarck, N.D. Three days later, Allegiant will begin service on Thursdays and Sundays from Sioux Falls, S.D. Both routes will use 161-seat MD-83 aircraft.

• Thanks to Southwest Airlines' daily nonstop service from Philadelphia, which starts May 9, travelers now can book Southwest Airlines Vacations' Las Vegas packages, complete with flights from Philadelphia Airport.

Packages start at $269 per person, double, for a two-night stay at the Sahara Hotel & Casino and can be booked through the end of April. Prices are based on Monday and Tuesday departures and are valid between May 10 and July 27.

For more information or reservations, call (800) 423-5683 or visit www.swavacations.com; for service in Spanish, call (888) 423-5683.

• Ted, United Airlines' new low-fare carrier, began service in February between Las Vegas and Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On April 7, the airline also will initiate Las Vegas service from Washington Dulles.

• Virgin Atlantic Airways last month added a fourth nonstop, roundtrip flight between London's Gatwick Airport and Las Vegas. The airline uses 439-passenger Boeing 747 jets for its London-Las Vegas flights, which now will be offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

• AirTran Airways added two daily nonstop flights, using Boeing 717 jet aircraft, between Dallas/Fort Worth and Las Vegas.

To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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