More night flights urged in Reno to spur tourism
RENO, Nev. – The top airport boss in Las Vegas says Reno may have to consider increasing its number of night flights to keep up with competitors in the tourism business.
Clark County Aviation Director Randy Walker said late-night flights are a fact of life in Las Vegas.
The low fares that attract tourists are made possible largely because airlines fly the planes at night when they otherwise would be standing idle, he said.
”They get one more turn off that aircraft,” Walker said. He said McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is busiest between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Walker offered the advice during a meeting Tuesday with the Air Service Task Force at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
Plans to increase night flights in Reno in the past have met opposition from local neighborhoods worried about the noise.
But Walker said a community that doesn’t want late-night flights is turning away new business.
”That’s not noise, that’s the sound of money,” he said. He said some of McCarran’s most vocal noise critics are from an affluent area called Spanish Trails.
”The more expensive your home, the more sensitive your ears,” he quipped.
Retaining existing flights in Reno and getting new ones especially to Midwestern and Eastern markets are among local officials’ top concerns as they seek the best access for the convention and destination traveler markets.
The number of daily departures from Reno, however, is 28 percent lower today than peak levels in 1997, when Reno Air had its hub in Reno. The decline concerns visitor-dependent businesses and other companies that rely heavily on the airport for employee, client and customer travel.
Walker stressed repeatedly that its up to the hotel-casinos and convention and visitors authority to create demand. It’s then up to the airport to serve that demand. If the demand exists, airlines or charter carriers will supply the seats, he said, adding that airlines care about their bottom line, not about serving a community.
”It’s the success of the community that drives the airport,” Walker said. If the community is not driving demand, ”there’s not anything the airport can do about it.”
Reno airport officials, meanwhile, continue to work to replace the service lost in July when American Airlines cut 16 flights. They are also working to retain existing service. Since July, the airport has replaced 59 percent of the flights and 47 percent of the seats that were cut by American, the airport reported.
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