Wednesday, August 23, 2017

McCarran International Airport (KLAS), Nevada: Influx of private jets expected for Mayweather-McGregor fight

Corporate jets may pack a punch on air traffic at McCarran International Airport this weekend.

Airport officials are bracing for an onslaught of general aviation aircraft flying into Las Vegas, filled with well-heeled passengers headed to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s fight with Conor McGregor at T-Mobile Arena.

“We’re trying to be better prepared and improve the guest experience,” airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said. “While this action appears to be favoring our wealthiest customers, this is really to the benefit of everyone using the airport.”

Airport officials don’t want to see a repeat of the knockout traffic experienced during Mayweather’s headliner bout with Manny Pacquiao in May 2015. Nearly 1,000 private jets overloaded capacity at the airport that weekend, prompting officials to convert a taxiway into a makeshift parking lot.

Another 282 planes were parked at Henderson Executive Airport and 80 planes at North Las Vegas Airport for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

It’s unclear how many private planes fly into the three airports on a typical weekend, but officials said they don’t want to be caught off guard this time around.

Pilots and plane owners are being asked to make reservations this weekend with either Atlantic Aviation or Signature Flight Support, which oversee the fueling and parking operations for private jets passing through McCarran.

Reservations for spaces at the Henderson and North Las Vegas airports can be made through the Clark County Department of Aviation.

Private plane traffic typically jumps during major fight weekends and the Consumer Electronics Show held every January in Las Vegas, said Shannon Walles, a customer service manager at Atlantic Aviation.

“We’ll absolutely be busy this weekend, but it’s hard to say because this is a different type of fight,” Walles said. “It’s an interesting type of clientele because they have that leisure to jump on a plane whenever they want, so we’ll see what happens.”

A manager with Signature Flight Support declined to comment.

The influx could affect private jet owners who are in Las Vegas for work rather than pleasure, said Dan Hubbard, a spokesman for the National Business Aviation Association, which issued a warning last week to its members.

“We want our entrepreneurs and companies to know that, if they need to be in that area for some business reason, then they should know this major fight is going on,” Hubbard said. “We just want them to prepare a little more than they might normally need to for that weekend.”

With about 60 commercial and private planes taking off hourly from McCarran, airport officials said that the advance reservations will help them determine departure demands and keep traffic moving this weekend.

“This helps us look at the scheduling for everyone because departures are on a first-come, first-served basis,” Crews said. “For the commercial flier, this means you might experience a delay if too many planes want to leave at the same time, so this is an effort to make it a smooth experience.”

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