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In another sign of resurgence in the Las Vegas tourism industry, officials reported Friday that McCarran International Airport drew nearly 41.5 million passengers in 2011 — the highest annual total since 2008.
McCarran's latest traffic report says 41.47 million people passed through the airport’s gates last year, the most since 44 million were served in ’08. Last year’s total was also significant in that it represented a rebound from 2010, when traffic dipped below 40 million for the first time in six years.
Helping spur the increase was a 3.9 percent boost in traffic during December 2011 compared with December 2010. Officials said the airport served 3.2 million passengers last month, up from 3.08 million in December 2010.
Among the five largest domestic carriers serving the airport, only Delta posted a decrease in passengers in 2011. Traffic for the top five, in order, changed as follows: Southwest up 1.5 percent, Delta down 1.8 percent, American up 7.1 percent, Allegiant up 6.4 percent and Continental up 6.9 percent. Continental merged with United in the fall of 2011, but officials said passenger numbers for the two airlines were separated in the report. United's 2011 passenger count is listed at 2 million.
Traffic at McCarran, the nation’s eighth-busiest airport, peaked at 47.7 million passengers in 2007. After dipping by 3.7 million in 2008, the number fell to 40.5 million in 2009 and 39.8 million in 2010.
The release of McCarran’s passenger counts came on the heels of reports showing improvement in other tourism industry indicators, including gaming revenue, gaming win and visitor volume in Las Vegas.