Viva Las Vegas - Routes Americas lands in Las Vegas

Many have tried, but no other city has managed to capture the world’s imagination quite the way that Las Vegas has. Known globally for its high-rolling luxury hotels, unparalleled entertainment offering and nearby stunning natural attractions, this is a fun-loving city that also means business when it comes to conventions and events.

Having successfully hosted World Routes back in October 2013, the first time the event had taken place in the United States of America, the fruits of that event mean the air service development community is back in the city for this year’s Routes Americas, which is taking place at the Aria Resort and Casino on February 14–16, 2017.

Las Vegas is one of the most iconic travel destinations in the world welcoming more than 42 million visitors a year and a key part of its continual success is reinvention. With an estimated $9 billion of new investment under construction or in development, Las Vegas continues to create more reasons to visit the Entertainment Capital of the World.

New attractions like T-Mobile Arena and The Park Theater provide visitors with more entertainment options and state-of-the-art venues to experience red-carpet affairs, productions, sporting events, concerts and more. The T-Mobile Arena will also be home to Las Vegas’ first NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

“These projects add to the billions of dollars that have already been invested in the famed Las Vegas Strip and Downtown over the past several years,” said Rossi Ranlenkotter, president and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

The LVCVA is also investing in the future with the Las Vegas Convention Center District. This transformational project will solidify Las Vegas’ position as the number one trade show destination in North America and further improve the convention delegate experience. The $1.4 billion project includes plans to expand and renovate the Las Vegas Convention Center adding more than 600,000 square feet of additional exhibition space. “It is truly an exciting time in Las Vegas filled with opportunity,” said Ranlenkotter.

Las Vegas continues to work on boosting its international visitor numbers and plans to expand its representation in overseas markets and LVCVA has highlighted that air service development would play a central role in this strategy. The city is one of the most exciting destinations in the world – and its airport plays a key role in facilitating tourism to the city, but traffic at McCarran International Airport continues to be dominated by local traffic with USA and Canada accounting for 96.1 per cent of departure seats on 2016.

The focus on attracting international visitors has been exemplified by a new Beijing route which was launched by Hainan Airlines at the end of 2016, while the destination’s first Middle East route will also debut with Qatar Airways in early 2018, opening up further new markets.

Ahead of the opening of Routes Americas, McCarran International’s director of aviation Rosemary Vassiliadis noted that it is “too soon to measure that service with any hard data,” but the fact the link has started “is a massive win for us,” she said. “We know the Chinese were already visiting Las Vegas in massive numbers, and adding non-stop service will only help that pool to grow in the months and years to come.

Although the route will undoubtedly open the way for more Asian visitors into Las Vegas, Vassiliadis believes the possibilities in China extend far beyond its capital, while nearby Japan is also a focus. “Asia remains underserved,” she said. “China has great potential beyond this new Beijing route, and Tokyo remains our largest unserved market with close to 210 passengers daily each way. At some point an airline is going to drop a non-stop on that segment.”

International is certainly at the heart of McCarran’s ambitions, as demonstrated by a $51 million project to will convert seven existing domestic gates into swing gates capable of accommodating international service which broke ground in February 2016.

“We have seven international gates today, and when this project wraps up this May we will have doubled that total to 14, also adding the ability to serve the A380 with a new dual-level jet bridge,” explained Vassiliadis. “Our passenger traffic on foreign flag carriers has grown from two million a year in 2009 to more than 3.5 million per year today, so the addition of these international gates will help us to continue to grow that segment.”

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…