Las Vegas airport sets passenger record in 2022 aided by boost in tourism and local resident travel

February 6, 2023 9:13 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
February 6, 2023 9:13 PM

Harry Reid International Airport served a record 52.6 million passengers in 2022, surpassing the previous high of 51.5 million recorded in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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This represents nearly 13 million more travelers and a 32.6% increase over 2021, aided by not only domestic and international tourists and convention goers but Las Vegas residents traveling out of the airport as well in greater numbers. The 4.37 million passengers traveling through the airport in December made for the busiest December ever, nearly 13% higher than the 3.87 million in December 2021. 

Despite the record, the number of visitors to Las Vegas in 2022 of 38.8 million fell, 8.7% below the 42.5 million visitors in 2019. 

“The trajectory of Las Vegas air travel throughout 2022 was nothing short of remarkable and could not have been achieved without the entire Clark County Aviation System,” said Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County Director of Aviation. “We are no longer talking about an air travel recovery at Harry Reid International Airport. This is undeniably a period of growth that we expect will continue in 2023.” 

Vassiliadis said that from sporting events to concerts, and from dining to gaming, there’s “truly something for everyone in Las Vegas.” 

During the last year, the airport’s single-month passenger record was broken three times, with October being the first month ever to surpass five million travelers, she said.  With business travel still recovering in 2022, leisure travel exceeded expectations as visitors flocked to Las Vegas to enjoy expanded sports offerings and other large-scale entertainment options, she said. 

One such weekend in early December saw an overlap of a Las Vegas Raiders home game, the PAC-12 football championship and the National Finals Rodeo. These major events were in addition to all of the resident shows and other big draws that occur any given week, Vassiliadis said. 

“Events of this caliber attract higher volumes of general aviation activity,” Vassiliadis said. “With these events happening at a greater frequency, Henderson Executive Airport and North Las Vegas Airport are more important than ever. These reliever airports play a crucial role in supporting general aviation activities, which allows LAS to maximize its commercial operations.” 

There were 2.5 million international passengers that traveled through the airport in 2022, a 235% increase over the 757,642 in 2021. 

The airport’s international travel recovery to pre-pandemic levels “made great progress,” as service from South Korea, Germany and Switzerland all resumed in 2022, Vassiliadis said. International schedules are expected to grow with the further easing of global travel restrictions, she added. 

“As the community evolves, the airport is adapting to constantly changing travel trends and evaluating how operations are impacted in areas such as ticketing, security checkpoints, concessions and transportation,” Vassiliadis said. “This is in preparation for even more large-scale events in 2023, including major college basketball tournaments and the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix. Efforts are also underway in anticipation of Super Bowl LVIII.” 

Visitors do not tell the entire story, according to Vassiliadis, who added that local residents are traveling in large numbers as well. The Terminal 1 long-term parking garage reached capacity nearly three times more in 2022 as compared to 2019, which can be attributed to an increased travel demand by locals, she said. 

Southwest Airlines handled the most passengers in 2022 at 18 million, a 29.4% increase over 2021. Spirit was next with 7.29 million, an increase of 54.2%. Frontier was third with 5 million, followed by Delta with 4.66 million, American with 4.22 million, United with 3.59 million, and Allegiant with 4.23 million. 

Air Canada handled 514,422 passengers while British Airways handled 199,361.