Monday, Dec. 22, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Southwest Airlines, the busiest air carrier at McCarran International Airport, has released its summer schedule, and the damage to the Las Vegas market was minimal.
The Dallas-based air carrier dropped only one round-trip flight from its previous schedule — to San Jose, Calif. The cut, which takes effect May 9, reduced the number of Southwest’s San Jose daily nonstop round-trip flights to eight.
At the same time, Southwest scratched three flights to and from Reno — to Oakland, Calif.; Phoenix, and Seattle.
Southwest operates an average of 228 flights a day at McCarran and its Las Vegas capacity is down 2.6 percent from a year ago. The company had announced a net loss of 13 Las Vegas flights in August and it was expected most of those would return in its summer 2009 schedule — but they didn’t.
As of November, the overall capacity at McCarran is down 15 percent from a year ago with the biggest cut coming from US Airways, which ended its night hub operation and now has 38 percent fewer flights than it did in November 2007.
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The Nevada Tourism Commission has been operating without a director since Tim Maland abruptly resigned in mid-September.
The 11-member commission asked that the search for a new director begin immediately and commissioners seemed on track to interview candidates just before the opening of the Governor’s Tourism Conference on Dec. 8.
But the conference and the commission meeting were canceled because of the down economy and the calling of the special legislative session to address budget issues.
Meanwhile, Gov. Jim Gibbons has suggested that the Tourism Commission be merged with the Economic Development Commission.
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who heads both commissions, suggested to Gibbons that the selection of a new tourism director be delayed until it was determined whether the merger would occur. He was expecting that to happen during the special session.
But it didn’t.
Now, work at the Tourism Commission is in a holding pattern until leadership matters are resolved.
Although merging the commissions would save some money, tourism leaders can’t be too excited about the prospect. Recruiting businesses to Nevada and inviting guests are missions that require different skills.
With all that will be on the plates of state lawmakers when the Legislature convenes in February, it’s hard to imagine that resolving the merger issue would occur quickly. Meanwhile, tourism leaders should be gearing up their marketing efforts to attract visitors in the coming year and need leadership to get going on that.
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Canada’s WestJet, one of the few air carriers adding flights at McCarran, has introduced an interesting new feature to its online booking engine.
The feature shows when the number of seats at a particular price point — or the number of total seats left on a flight — is getting low. The online countdown feature will indicate when there are fewer than 10 seats available at a given price.
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Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, which capitalizes on flying tourists from small cities across the United States to resort areas, has a new Florida destination.
Beginning in the spring, Allegiant will fly to Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda in the southwest part of the state from some of Allegiant’s East Coast destinations. No Las Vegas flights are planned to the new destination.
Allegiant already flies into Orlando Sanford International Airport, the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport near Tampa and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International in Florida.
A version of this story appears in the current issue of In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication.