When Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated the closure of all nonessential businesses in Nevada on Wednesday night, McCarran International Airport was flooded by concerned callers.
Luckily, McCarran Airport is considered an essential business and will remain open during the 30-day shutdown.
McCarran was prompted to post an announcement on their Twitter page after receiving the hundreds of calls to assure possible travelers and airport personnel that its facility wouldn’t be affected.
The tweet read:
“@LASairport (McCarran’s Airport International’s Twitter handle) provides essential transportation services and will remain open to serve the state’s travelers and cargo operations,”
Passenger Volume Drops
While McCarran Airport plans to operate as usual, COVID-19 has caused a major drop in passenger volume since last week. The lighter crowds have lead certain vendors to shorten their hours of operation.
The number of vendors or details on which vendors would be limiting their hours isn’t totally clear at this time, but Joseph Rajchel, a spokesman for McCarran provided additional information:
“Due to the fluidity of the situation, specifics weren’t available in terms of cutback on concessions’ hours…We have been made aware that some of the grab-and-go options have closed down. As this continues to progress, McCarran is working closely with our concession vendors to ensure customers’ needs are met.”
Air Traffic Controller Tests for COVID-19 Wednesday Night
On Wednesday night, one of McCarran Airport’s air traffic controllers had a presumed positive COVID-19 testing.
Local Las Vegas news outlets tweeted that “something strange” was going on at McCarran last night, as it caused the temporary shutdown of one of the air traffic control towers.
The airport gave the following statement detailing the current situation:
“The air traffic control tower at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is temporarily closing while we ensure a safe work environment for air traffic controllers and technicians.
On Wednesday, an air traffic controller at the facility potentially tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Las Vegas Terminal Radar Approach Control has assumed control of the airspace. The airport remains open and operations will continue at a reduced rate until the situation is resolved.”
Travelers are being warned to take extra precautions if they do have to travel during this period of statewide shutdown.
While McCarran is still open for flights, it’s unsure with the current state of the coronavirus whether other state airports are operating in the same way. It could be possible that if you travel to another city, or especially out of the country, that you might not be able to get back to Nevada expeditiously.
A Las Vegas couple who left for Peru last Thursday is being detained in the South American country and unable to get home. The couple said they thought it was okay to travel to Peru, because at the end of last week, Peru had minimal reports of coronavirus cases.
Right now, #STAYHOMENV is currently trending on Twitter in the Silver State.
For those needing to travel, McCarran suggests that all passengers double-check their airline’s websites to find accurate, updated information on flight statuses, cancelations, and accommodations.
The President Supports Airline Businesses Amid COVID-19
On a White House briefing on Tuesday, President Trump said, “We don’t want airlines going out of business.”
Trump also said that while domestic travel restrictions haven’t been ruled out, he kept his comments to the airline industries focused on the aid the government would be providing and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that came on Monday.
The CDC guidelines recommend avoiding unnecessary travel for the next two weeks.
According to the Associated Press, the airline industry is seeking at least $50 billion in aid because of the travel fallout due to the outbreak.
Southwest CEO, Gary Kelly, says the current state of travel has a “9/11-like feel.” In a video addressed to Southwest employees on Monday, Kelly said:
“We’re gathering up all the cash we can. …There is simply no way to know how long this crisis will last.”
Airlines for America, one of the trade groups that represent U.S. airlines, said that aid is absolutely critical to hold up the airline industry, as travel fallout continues to plummet as the days go on with no end in sight.
“This crisis hit a previously robust, healthy industry at lightning speed, and we remain concerned that the impacts of this crisis will continue to worsen,” Airlines for America said in a statement. “U.S. carriers are in need of immediate assistance as the current economic environment is simply not sustainable.”