Fly on the wall gets swatted away

What we won’t get to know might help the Las Vegas tourism industry tremendously

Richard N. Velotta

Richard N. Velotta

I won’t get to write one of the stories I wanted to during the World Routes 2013 conference, which began Friday and runs through Tuesday.

I was hoping to be the proverbial fly on the wall when representatives from Las Vegas sit down with airline executives to pitch why the company should add Las Vegas to its route map.

That’s what World Routes is about: airlines meeting with airports and tourism organizations to sort out how each could make money by adding flights.

Las Vegas has the home-field advantage during this year’s conference, the first staged in the United States. As the title implies, it is an international event.

When I asked to shadow the Las Vegas team, I received you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me looks and an explanation that these meetings are top secret. Meeting halls are off limits to the media.

Media events, on the other hand, include briefings and tours of McCarran International Airport and Nellis Air Force Base, helicopter tours and fighter plane simulations.

Resorts are inviting Routes delegates to shows and attractions, hoping to persuade the decision-makers to commit flights here.

The other advantage Las Vegas gets is the ability to schedule as many meetings as will fit on the calendar. Other cities and airports have a limited timetable, but Las Vegas’ delegation has a full dance card.

We may not know the result of the wheeling and dealing for months. But historically, the home-field advantage results in double-digit percentage increases in seat capacity.

Las Vegas averages almost 69,000 seats a day flying into the market. Adding 7,000 would mean more than 40 new flights a day.

The big goal is enticing a new carrier to McCarran — maybe a company taking delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliners or Airbus A350 jets that can fly to Las Vegas from Asia, South America or the Middle East.

What questions will the airlines have about Las Vegas and McCarran? How will the city’s delegation respond to concerns about Las Vegas being a low-yield market? How can Las Vegas bump up an airline’s yield while maintaining its image as a value proposition?

That’s what I’d like to know.

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