Reno passenger count down |

Reno passenger count down

RENO – Passenger count at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport fell off in October from a year ago, but airport authorities attribute the 11 percent drop to Reno Air’s flying the coop.

American Airlines, which bought Reno Air in July, reduced its number of flights into the airport by 16 a day, Washoe County Airport Authority spokesman Adam Mayberry confirmed. That’s a cut of 57 percent of its flights to and from Reno.

October’s decrease amounted to 54,787 passengers, leaving the airport with a total of 430,960.

Casino gaming revenues went down in October, but officials point to other factors such as the structure of the month, weather and winning players as the reasons.

“The bottom line is, the dramatic flight reductions cut into the counts,” Mayberry said.

Through the first 10 months of 2000, passenger counts are running 7.6 percent below the same period in 1999, according to airport authorities.

However, the declines in passenger count sound more dramatic than they appear, Mayberry added.

The more significant impact of American’s takeover of Reno Air revolves around the elimination of the biggest little city’s hub status.

“We lost a lot of our connecting passengers,” Mayberry said, adding that, economically, the pullback also affects the airport merchants.

“Having the direct service to major hubs captures incoming passengers,” he said, reminded of the number of choices mobile passengers now have to get around the globe. “You can get to virtually any major destination in the world in two stops.”

Allegiant Air dropped its three daily flights to Las Vegas after nine days of flying the route at the end of November. A week ago, the beleaguered carrier eliminated all but one route out of its Fresno home base. On Wednesday, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

On the upside for state employees, the Nevada Board of Examiners voted Wednesday for a two-year, $5 million contract with Southwest Airlines. State employees will get $78 flights between Las Vegas and Reno for 2001. The regular round-trip price for a flight is $192.

The current contract between Southwest and the state netted about 30,000 round-trip flights in 1999.

Southwest is the airport’s largest carrier, accounting for 46 percent of airport passengers in October. American books 14 percent of the travelers out of the Reno Airport.

Beyond American and Southwest, other carriers include America West, Delta, Alaska, Continental, United and Northwest airlines.

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